Bobby Messano is an eight-time Grammy nominee and a member of the Blues Music Hall of Fame. He also makes some of the consistently best recordings in contemporary blues and blues rock. On Welcome to Deltaville, he and long-time band member Steve Geller and the rest of the band members do their usual awesome job, but the CD is really taken to a higher level by the addition of some great guest musicians. While Deanna Bogart’s sax adds a whole new, smooth, and jazzy touch to the music, the background vocals provided by her and Tracy Nelson are an added bonus. And, Ivan Neville is on keyboards—it never hurts to have a Neville on a recording.
All of this celebrity help would not make a great recording, however, if Messano and his band were not already so good, and if the material was not so enjoyable. Whether it’s the covers or the originals, every song is a winner.
The title song, “Welcome to Deltaville,” sets the mood, with its lyrics about a peaceful place where we all can go, and even though some of the original songs are about loneliness and loss, the overall mood still feels optimistic.
For instance, “That’s the Way of the World” reflects resignation at the unfairness of the world these days, yet is lightened by the reggae-tinged beat. “My Crazy Dreams” is a slow blues about how no matter what happens, dreams can see you through, with superb guitar from Messano.
“The Invisible Man,” with tasty sax from Bogart, continues the world-weary theme, yet manages, like all of these songs, to completely avoid sounding self-pitying or whining. This is just Messano facing the truth in matter of fact fashion, and in the best tradition of blues, turning it into great music.
“I Ain’t Got Diddley” is a clever tune which also features Bogart and which incorporates that classic Bo Diddley beat, as Messano explains to the subject of the song that he “ain’t got Diddley” for her. “Lonely Town” then slows the tempo for a heartfelt song about a place we’ve all been at some time or another.
This brings us to the cover songs. The CD actually begins with Otis Rush’s “All Your Lovin’,” with great guitar and powerful vocals, but the second cover, of The Temptations’ “The Way You Do the Things You Do,” is even better. The combination of Messano’s guitar and Bogart’s sax turns this into something magical
Having seen Messano perform live a number of times, this reviewer can testify that “Sleepwalk” is always a crowd-pleaser, and it is wonderful to finally see it on a CD. The Santo and Johnny instrumental has never sounded better than it does here and especially shows off Messano’s guitar skills.
The CD ends with a long, jazzy version of “The Low Spark of High-Heeled Boys,” which allows everyone to stretch out and show their stuff, although Bogart’s sax definitely steals the show for me. Be sure to listen all the way to the end,
With every new release from Bobby Messano, the sound quality gets better and better. This one is technically the best yet. Add that to the quality material, vocals, and extraordinary musicianship, and this CD gets the highest possible recommendation. It will be loved by fans of Clapton. Winwood, and modern blues in general.