Delta Devil Dreams begins with the cinematic, edgy “Summer Daze.” There is an old-soul feel to the track, with a blues-style guitar and Eilidh McKellar’s raspy vocals at the center of it all (see also “Diamond Kiss”). From the get-go, McKellar grips your focus with an attitude that is constant for the rest of the album.
“Hold Steady” has an almost sultry feel to it, with a rock and roll vibe that felt unexpected. The soulful quality to each verse is almost tangible, with a melodic chorus that adds a perfect contrast throughout. A piano-driven bridge smooths out the edge to the song, rounding it out, and giving it that special something that leaves anyone who hears it in awe. Similarly, “Remedy” is filled with colorful descriptions, invoking an imagery of struggle, surrounded by an alluring blues instrumental.
Throughout Delta Devil Dreams, McKellar showcases an attitude only further emphasized by stellar vocals, classic, bluesy instrumentals, and, of course, lyrics that sound like something the Stones could have written in their prime (e.g. “Killer Joe,” “Until The Sun Comes Up,” “Preaching Lies”). “The City” carries a classic rock sound, with an electrifying tone that is worthy of the theme song of a hit crime TV show.
One thing I love about listening to new artists is imagining how I would have found them if I hadn’t been asked to listen to them. For an artist like McKellar, I can only imagine going through the collection at a record store and stumbling across this album. With tracks like “Home,” it feels as though the only appropriate way to listen would be on vinyl. McKellar’s vocals reach new heights on the track, with a more exploratory sound, developed further by her confidence that radiates in every note.
“Avenue E” is a beautiful, melodic surprise on the album. It’s the first slow song, and it’s softness stands out, even next to the other slower tracks. “We were all from different places […], from different walks of life,” McKellar croons, her vocals raw with both a power and vulnerability. For an artist to be able to mix the two tones, without sounding chaotic, it is incredible in its own right.
The title track of the album has a steady pace to it, and a catchy rhythm, all accompanied by Santana-worthy guitar parts and some awesome lyrical alliteration.
Tracks like “Cruel” and “Fool” have the lyrical soul of an Adele track with a rock and roll edge, making an unbelievably original concoction of soul, style, and sophistication expected from an artist in their late-twenties/early thirties, never mind McKellar’s twenty years.
Throughout Delta Devil Dreams, there is never a moment of doubt of who McKellar is; no wondering if it’s all a facade or fabricated persona. Every inch of attitude delivered feels genuine, especially on tracks like “Dead Man Walking.”
Delta Devil Dreams is a masterpiece in its own right; everything about the album works together as a force to be reckoned with. McKellar’s subtle powerhouse style and old soul sound create an album worthy of both recognition and repetition.
For more on Eilidh McKellar, please head to the following:
10/14 – The Underbelly (London)
11/05 – The Old Queens Head (London)
In 2015, McKellar will be on tour throughout the UK/US n support of the album.
The video for “Home,” from Delta Devil Dreams, can be viewed below: