Removing thoughts of counter-culture iconoclasm, parental trust funds or extravagant nudie suits, The Deslondes may well be the natural offspring of country-rock music icon Gram Parson and his vision of American cosmic music.
Using four-part vocal harmonies to wrap around a sound which blends country and rock and soul, The Deslondes are perhaps closest to Parsons at his creative peak when he was inspired, hanging with the Stones and playing ‘Sweethearts of the Rodeo’ with the Byrds.
Creating a loose sound through use of tight vocals and traditional country instruments (upright bass, pheromone, steel drums and two acoustic guitars) the group create a classic honky-tonk sound which menaces with an ongoing theme of hippy outlaws.
‘Hurricane Shakedown’, sounding as instantly classic as anything from Gram inspired ‘Exile on Main Street’. perfectly encapsulates the band’s sound and vocal qualities which overlap each other perfectly. Given that the band take it in turns to sing lead, there’s an exceptionally strong vocal talent on show.
And whilst it’s the menacing songs which get the crowd moving, it’s the slighter slower songs, such as ‘Wrong Time to be right’ and intense ‘(This Ain’t a) Sad song’, which are most impactful this evening; generating those classic ‘high lonesome’ feelings which come with the slightly perverse attitude of enjoying the sadder side of life.
Bags of musical attitude and tales of the American landscape, The Deslondes are a great live band pushing American comic music to its outer reaches. The guy next to me commented that they are a tantalising glimpse into how the Kings of Leon would have sounded if they’d stayed with Ethan Johns, kept off the drugs and hadn’t gone out looking for the big stadiums and pop success. Whether that’s true or not, I’m not sure, but I’m certain Gram himself would be proud.