Artist: Bob Delevante
Album: Valley of Days
Label: Relay Records
Release Date: 08/19/2016
Sometimes the term artist gets used rather casually. Bob Delevante, though, is a multi-dimensional, award-winning artist, renowned for his photography, illustrations, graphic designs and large scale media projects. He somehow finds the time to make records every so often too. As he says, “Every morning I wake up and get to do something different, which is a fantastic challenge creatively. Some days I’m shooting, some days I’m designing and then others I’m writing and recording. In the end, it’s all art.”
Delevante is well respected within the Nashville Americana community, having production credits with The Coal Men and Greg Trooper as well as touring with Steve Earle, Emmylou Harris and John Prine. Emmylou and Buddy Miler guested on his 1999 Porchlight. He brought together some of the city’s finest musicians for this effort that features Gary Tallent (bass), Amanda Shires (fiddle/vocals), Fats Kaplin (fiddle/pedal steel), Jen Gunderman (keyboards) and Bryan Owings (drums). Dave Ray (drums) and Dave Coleman (guitars/pedal steel/production) of The Coal Men figure prominently too. Delevante plays guitar, mandolin, ukulele and harmonica while co-producing with Coleman. Just last week The Coal Men released their new one so this is, in one sense, an encore. Much of the album was recorded in Dave Coleman’s studio and the remainder at famed RCA Studio B.
Although it’s been quite some time since Porchlight, the same elements remain—honest, straightforward and intelligent lyrics combined with melodic tunes, many of which are both hummable and memorable. Some of these songs and metaphors are just offbeat enough in concept to pique curiosity. “Kite on the Wind,” “Father Find Me Now” and “The Girl Who Shines Down on Me” come to mind. Delevante paces the album well, beginning with a couple of roots rockers before cranking it up for “Downtown Tonight.” Then he really changes gears into a rather pop-like approach for the hummable “Caroline,” which has some beautiful childhood imagery. The title track has a bluegrass feel with pulsating banjo, fiddle and mandolin.
Themes are mostly about family and love, and familiar places. He has a subtle sense of humor and uses the talented musicians well with instrumentation that ranges from pedal steel and fiddle to Coleman’s ringing electric guitar and Gunderman’s supportive keyboards. Julie Lee and his brother Mike support with vocals on a couple of tracks too. This is what happens when you put a strong songwriter together with some the best roots musicians — solid stuff, the real deal without pretension.
– Jim Hynes