Coming from Detroit, and bringing with them their hard rocking blues, Delta Twins capture the energy of a live performance and imprint it onto their 2012 album, The Seasons & The Scars. The twins themselves, Bob Young and Tom Kozanecki have only been playing together since 2009, but have already developed a synergy that sounds like they’ve been a duo for far longer than that. While their backing band has had many musicians come and go, here at least they are joined by a number of talented artists and all of them have brought their “A-game.”
Kozanecki handles rhythm guitar and does some lead work, while the other half of Delta Twins, Young, serves as lead vocalist and keyboardist, but also throws himself behind the guitar and harmonica. Filling out the rest of the band is lead guitarist Jake Burdock, drummer Leland McCann, and Kenny Szymanski on bass. Their skills are all revealed on the album’s opening track, “Big Shoes.” A rollicking piano intro seamlessly flows into strong guitar riffing, a chugging bass line, and crisp, forceful drumming. The grit in the guitar riff is unmistakably drawn from the blues, something reasserted within the song’s tightly played, first solo. It’s the second solo that separates Delta Twins from others as the guitar opens up to unleash a flurry of notes with a down and dirty roar.
Young’s vocals are also dirty; he doesn’t possess a tremendous range, and indeed there are times where he sounds a little strained or as if he’s forcing himself. Outside of these occasions though, he digs deep and lets lyrics fly with a salt of the Earth gusto that is as true as the music he’s playing. “On The Night Train” for example, has Young singing about the absence of his baby and how he awaits her return home on the night train. While the subject isn’t new to the blues, the lyric is sung with a vibrant vigor by Young. His harmonica playing is also perfectly suited to the track, complimenting the guitars and furthering the song’s theme of a train rolling on back home.
Blues and rock influences come together frequently for Delta Twins and “Quick Fix” is a perfect example of that. Between McCann’s drums and Szymanski’s bass, the two of them create a Bo Diddley beat over which Young jams on his harmonica and Kozanecki and Burdock chug away on their guitars. It’s this kind of solid blues-rock that acts as the glue holding The Seasons & The Scars together. “Live My Life,” “No Love Lost,” and “Blindsided,” all fall into the same category of being punchy rockers that have a stellar amount of quality instrumentation. Particularly notable is “Blindsided” and how it incorporates the keyboards into the arrangement; an addition that provides a more unique sonic texture to the song, but without removing it from its blues-rock origins.
The one major area of fault that the group runs into is on their longer songs, almost all of which feel like they’re dragged out longer than they should be. The first instance of this is “Remotely True.” The song itself is sonically unique; it begins with ominous keyboards and guitars that rattle in the distance. A sound sample from the film, The Matrix is used after which the song opens up into its ¾ time, extended blues jam. Young sings about societal woes and what the world is coming to, but at nearly eight minutes long, the point is established well before that, and the instrumentation isn’t always engaging enough to keep the song’s momentum flowing.
This is a greater issue on “Keeper,” which clocks in at over eleven minutes. There are some wonderful moments on this song, ranging from the exceptional keyboards, to the guitar effects in the extended instrumental passage, and the staggeringly strong solo that everything builds up to. But that build would’ve been more effective in a more condensed version of the song. In the notes for this album, the band mentions that some of these songs were based on jam sessions they used to do, with lyrics added afterwards. Bearing that in mind, it’s understandable why these pieces are the way they are, and based on that, fans of blues jams should find them remarkably enjoyable at the very least.
Aside from the longer tracks, the music Delta Twins churn out on The Seasons & The Scars is consistently strong and exceptionally well performed. Young and Kozanecki have really hit on something in the dynamic between them. The amount of energy that radiates off of this album is almost unheard of for a set of studio recordings. Even if it’s not a perfect record, it’s still one that demands listening to from fans of rocking blues. And just as important for Delta Twins, this also acts as a reminder to the rest of the world about the powerful music force that Detroit was and continues to be.
Review by: Heath Andrews
Rating: 4 Stars (out of 5)