Hillbilly Trance was originally released as a limited edition earlier this year but, due to difficult circumstances, it was essentially unfinished. Now the “missing” tracks have been added and the whole album remixed for general release. I suppose that I was expecting a stomping hootenanny of an album but it’s not like that at all. In fact, the title is totally accurate: on the one hand you have the elements of bluegrass/country music – guitar, banjo, fiddle and harmonica – and on the other there are the ingredients of trance – kandela, Tibetan bowls, whistle and keyboards – and the two come together.
Delta Ladies began as a duo of Vicky Martin and Dee Stone playing all the lead instruments and have now been joined by Danny Bryan’s percussion. They are augmented here by Tali Trow, who was also responsible for most of the production, Alan Glen on harmonica and, on two tracks, flautist Nick Newell. The expanded line-up has changed again since the album was completed.
The key tracks are probably ‘Trance Dance’ and ‘Rock Of Ages (Tranced)’ which follows it. The indigenous trance dance was intended to be consciousness-altering and certainly the rolling rhythms of some of the tracks lead the listener down new paths. The closing eleven-plus minutes of ‘Hear Me Calling’ is a masterpiece of interlinking sounds and instruments.
In contrast are the little banjo solo, ‘Redcar Blues’; ‘Hot Chat Line’ which starts out as a fifties style rock’n’roller and just about manages to hold on to that concept although Dee’s fiddle tries to take it away, and the gospel blues of ‘Praise The Lord’. Don’t go away with the idea that Delta Ladies lack direction because they know exactly what they’re doing and where they’re going. It may take some people a while to catch up with them is all.
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‘Devil’s Work Today’ – official video: