THE DELUGE — Elephant’s Graveyard

by Ryan Snyder

The surest way for a band to overhaul its sound is to retool its lineup, but with their second album Elephant Graveyard, Winston-Salem soul-rock quintet the Deluge chose to change in smaller deviations. In theory, the addition of virtuosic guitarist and former Small Town Gossip member Daniel Seriff and spots by session man extraordinaire Kofi Burbridge would open up the songbook for an already stout lineup, but the group instead simply builds on their existing reper toire.

Instrumental passages in opener “Honest Man” affirm the song’s conciliatory message with stout Hammond, and a chorus of scat and Albert Kinginspired blues licks. It could very well have found itself on their debut Cryin’ On the Vine in a more spartan incarnation, but instead they’ve fattened their sound like a Christmas goose. The focus isn’t simply on meaty solos, however. Singer Brandon Knox gives an outstanding performance on the courtesan narrative “Rosy,” propelled by chirpy boogie piano. The Deluge dip their toes into burly hard rock on “Medicine,” where the mix of down-tuned rock guitar and shimmering slide suggest Knox and Co. were indulging Gov’t Mule records at some point during recording. They shift effortlessly back into their bread and butter on “Wade In the Wake,” a song that’s got a little soul, a little pop, and is drenched in roots, each facet executed faultlessly. Given Seriff’s rich jazz background, more open-ended, jazzy passages could have spiced up the occasionally anticipatable Elephant Graveyard, but with superlative execution like this, who could complain?