The Delines: The Imperial (El Cortez Records)

Reviewed by Harry Kaplan
What happens when you mix late 60s and early 70s soul with some traditional country? You get The Imperial by The Delines. The Imperial is this Portland, Oregon outfit’s second album and it as a good one. The music grooves and has a very understated vibe that is more comfortable than 1,000 thread count sheets. This is an album to be listened to around 6:00 PM to officially ring in the weekend. 

This is the band’s first release in three years, giving lead singer Amy Boone ample time to recover from a serious car accident. It looks like Amy is all healed and The Delines are back in action again. They are currently deep in the midst of their European tour. If my math skills don’t fail me, The Delines should be heading to Leeds getting ready for their performance this evening.
This time I would like to begin at the end. Waiting On The Blue (Track 10) is the most striking song on the entire collection. This is in deep contract to most of the other numbers on the album. While the other songs are songs by the traditional sense, Waiting On The Blue is definitely a more minimalistic offering. I think that deep contrast and the sparsity of this song is what makes it so appealing to me. It has a very haunting aura about it, which only adds to the mystique. 
To temper the haunting themes associated with the track above, let’s focus our attention on the melancholy ballad Where Are You Sonny (Track 3). This song is definitely film noir. A couple talking in a far away away table in a smokey lounge.  I am not a smoker, but smoking definitely is a necessary part of the imagery. Let’s not forget the horns, Those lovely horns that take hold of you and transfer the listener to somewhere else. Somewhere better. 
Roll Back My Life (Track 5) is another one of those minimalistic beauties that leave a lot to the imagination. This song is just Amy’s voice and some very sparse piano playing. And let me tell you, less is definitely more. This song takes sadness to a new level. But not the kind of sadness that is repelling, the kind of half-sadness that teeters somewhere close to our pleasure sensors. This song is just wonderful. 
Infectious is the word I would use to describe this album. The songs flow perfectly from one track to the next. Even the more sparsely decorated numbers sound perfect when placed next to their more adorned brothers and sisters. This album will definitely be on repeat for quite a while.  
Listen to The Imperial
Buy The Imperial
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