Sabertooth Swing gathers the work of poets, activists, and historical figures into songs and spoken word recordings, all on their third album, “Delta Bound.” The New Orleans-based band did an amazing job of honoring their hometown and its history. They have their own folk, jazz sound, and unique way of storytelling that will make us feel nostalgic for days that some of us may not even have been born yet to witness.
All forms of art have powers, and music certainly has many powers lying within. In “Delta Bound,” Sabertooth Swing was able to set the truth free, revealing many aspects of Louisiana’s historical violence that books could not. As they said, “In New Orleans, memories linger in the humid air. But not all memories hanging in the air are benign.”
The album’s intro is a spoken-word recording (feat. Holly Devon), which carries a bold, realistic message within. It speaks about how historical production is driven and how the stories are limited. On the other hand, “music knows no such limitations . . . Its creation is always marked by the moment and place in which it was made. But songs move more freely in time.” And as Holly speaks about music, there’s background music that backs up the idea of how music travels and evolves with its vibes from West Africa to the Caribbean. And I totally agree with every single word, and I believe too that “these melodies allow their listeners to perceive history through the senses instead of the mind.”
The intro sets the tone for the wonderful journey we’re about to embark on in New Orleans. We start off with the title track, Alex Hill’s “Delta Bound”, which immediately transports you to the 90’s authentic jazz. It kicks off with a passionate trumpet that sets the mood for you with straightforward percussion, then Dan Ruch’s vocals that excel, taking us on a magical ride back to the Delta, and Chris Butcher’s trombone solo was just on fire! and following a relaxing accordion solo by the band’s guest ‘Sunpie’ Barnes. When it comes to the arrangement, the single was incredibly rich, and all the instruments are well placed.
“Le Dormeur Du Val” is restful with Anna Laura Quinn’s warm, soothing vocals. Her voice helps to paint a picture of a safe place where the sun comes on one’s face, and then once the instrumentations join in, we’re back to where the poem and melody aim to take us. The amazing instrumental piece “Sweet Lorna” is flawlessly arranged, and the layered instruments harmonize perfectly together, not to mention the superb trombone solo that makes one jam along. With exceptional performance, “Send Me To The ‘Lectric Chair” takes an authentic composition and keeps its nostalgic vibes while adding a modern touch. Their vibrant, jazzy version of the folk song “La Chanson De Mardi Gras” puts us in the middle of the celebration. The Daiquiri Queens’ vocals convey the traditional roots of the song even if you’re not familiar with it. It’s remarkable how music can be played in various ways while giving the essence of whoever is performing, and that’s what Sabertooth Swing feat. Ryan Henseler & Jeffery Broussard nailed to do in Clifton Chenier’s “I’m On The Wonder.” “Buddy Bolden’s Blues” has playful, amusing, charismatic vocals, and the profound solo playing is so spectacular that I kept repeating it over and over again. The album comes to a close with Anna Laura Quinn’s lovely, charming voice on “Nuages.” The instruments begin softly, in time with the singing, and then climb somewhat until they reach the solo part, allowing the trombone to take center stage. They manage to finish an album that began with circling New Orleans up in the clouds.
And by hearing what they got, it’s obvious that they fulfilled the quest of proving that music carries memory and that New Orleans music carries memory differently. The band pulled off putting together the 19 tracks of songs, instrumentals, and spoken word recordings with a variety of melodies, guest musicians, and narrators into one masterpiece, showing how much they cherish their history.
Words in books can be misleading sometimes, but you can always tell the truth with sincere music. Let’s also give music credit for making history accessible in the simplest, most enjoyable, and most accurate way possible, with “Delta Bound” serving as the best example.
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