ALBUM: Delilah – ‘From the Roots Up’

By Ed King

The danger of waiting for something is unmet expectation. And the longer you wait, the bigger the let down.

Delilah’s debut album had been scheduled for release twice (by my counting), before its final issue date of July 30th, and felt frustratingly late. Thankfully it’s brilliant; with the realistic ups and downs I’ll now nitpick my way through.

As the opening track, ‘Never Be Another’, drags grey skies over warped synths – a precedent is set.

Quasi tribal drums punch the back of a distorted vocal loop; immediately dark, brooding and lustrously industrial, before the mellifluous keys that pepper this 12 track debut. With Delilah’s sultry, yearning vocals; her distinctive sound is proffered from the off.

The second track, ‘Breathe’, introduces film soundtrack strings; relinquishing to strong vocals and stripped back lounge sounds. Although having watched the Maida Vale studio recordings, I can’t help picture it being sung any other way.

The build from slow beat to march on ‘I Can Feel You’ establishes a back line production approach, one that carries across the album but remains reminiscent of the thread connecting Florence’s ‘Lungs’.

Before the album ebb of ‘Shades of Grey’ and ‘Only You’; a back to back churlishness that lacks the simple power of Delilah’s other material.

But then, as if a direct slap on the face of immaturity, comes a stunning cover of Minnie Ripperton’s ‘Inside My Love’. And whilst Delilah’s high vocal doesn’t quite match the 37 year old original, her careful layers deliver the rest with a beautiful modernity.

‘21’ bounces out more personal lyrics, ‘I’ll smile and take a picture’, but again lacks the echoing drama of Delilah’s darker side. Before the totally unnecessary ‘Go’; which should do just that, parentheses – and stay there – close parentheses.

The plucking Balearic of ‘Irate’ shows an endearing direction (I foresee remixes of this album track), before the macchiato cherry that is ‘Love You More’. Unbelievable sexy, with or without the French intro, this is Delilah’s upbeat at best. And if you can listen to more than 49secs of it without moving a shoulder, you’re probably ill.

The penultimate ‘Insecure’ opens and closes without note; before the final ‘Tabitha, Mummy & Me’ sees Delilah’s solo keys and vocals deliver starkly personal lyrics. One of the most mature moments on the album, and an approach I’d welcome more of.

Delilah has reportedly ‘hundreds of songs’, despite taking over three years to put 12 of them together. And from exploring her online portfolio I know these include the makings of magic – such as ‘Strong for Me’ or ‘Mean to Me’.

Perhaps I’m too maudlin; perhaps I’m just a sucker for vocals and keys. Perhaps I ‘own a life time of woes but they ‘aint mine’, and I should just let the girl dance.

But whilst ‘From the Roots Up’ is an accomplished debut with true moments of beauty, it feels like a taste of the ambrosia still left to come.

‘From the Roots Up’ by Delilah is out now, on Atlantic Records. For more details visit http://delilahofficial.co.uk/

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