Retro Deluxe, one of the newer blues bands on the scene, is staking out its territory on the playground with the release of their second CD, Watermelon Tea. Boasting sixteen tracks, all originals, written by manager Bob Thompson, Watermelon Tea, like its namesake, is quite a refreshing treat. Founded by lead vocalist Bobby Joe Owens, and produced by Jimbo Mathus (Squirrel Nut Zippers, South Memphis String Band), Retro Deluxe has a way of capturing that classic blues-boogie sound of the fifties and sixties.
It is impossible to miss the influence of the iconic Memphis Sun Studio greats on this album. Owens’ voice is surprising similar to that of Elvis Presley, and at times will transition the listener to a simpler time and place. Guitarist Zack Sweeney adds a touch of Led Zeppelin to Owen‘s Elvis-like vocals on ‘I’ve Got One Woman’. This favorite of mine is only a reggae beat away from Dread Zeppelin. Billy Earheart, a wild man on the piano, slaps those keys around like Jerry Lee Lewis on ‘What in the Devil Did I do Last Night’. With a sound similar to Lewis’s ‘Great Balls of Fire’, this track lyrically more of a follow-up to ’Tennessee Saturday Night’.
And for that simple and soulful sweet electric blues, ‘The Mother Nature Song’ hits the spot. One listen, and I caught myself reminiscing about soaking up some live delta blues music on Beale Street in Memphis.
Watermelon Tea is an enjoyable listen. I look forward to hearing what comes next for this band.