Packing a hipflask full of Bessie Smith, Patsy Cline and soul-studded country blues, Liverpudlian singer songwriter Delta Maid is here to take your breath away. 25 years old and from Wavertree in South Liverpool, Deltaâ€™s love affair with American roots music began when she was a child, her head swimming withcountry greats as well as the more modern blues that made up the backbone of her parents record collection â€“ from Bonnie Raitt and Taj Mahal to Stevie Ray Vaughan and BB King.
Deltaâ€™s own personal musical discovery was kick started by a copy of country blues queen Rory Block’s â€˜Best Blues and Originalsâ€™ which her parents bought back with them after a trip to New York.
Listening to the record non-stop for two weeks during a holiday in Ireland, the 13 year old Deltaâ€™s ears had been opened to early blues there was no turning back. “I was in aweâ€¦ I became fascinated by the style of play, the whole feeling of it. It was at this point that I began actively searching for theÂ history and legends that were behind delta blues.
After hearing the likes of Son House, Skip James, Bessie Smith and Robert Johnson for the first time I dived head first into a world that has since become a part of my own makeup.”
Deltaâ€™s seafaring family have long had connections to America. Her great grandfather was a stoker who used to regale Deltaâ€™s family with stories of working on the docks in prohibition era New York and like Deltaâ€™s parents after him, he would bring rare roots records back home to Liverpool.
The main stopping point for immigrants travelling to America, the idea of looking west to the US for inspiration, rather than east to Europe has long defined Liverpool, and Delta is no exception.
Initially accompanied on guitar by her brother for her first gig, a charity show arranged by their mother, an injury meant he could no longer play alongside her.
Disappointed but intent on performing, Delta – who could already strum a few chords – taught herself to play guitar. A left hander, she developed her own distinctive way of playing by trying to replicate what sheâ€™d heard on her Son House and Leadbelly records. â€œPeople say itâ€™s a weird finger picking style that not many people do, but itâ€™s just an amalgamation of what Iâ€™ve picked up on â€“ itâ€™s dead natural to me!â€
Biology graduate Delta was actually training to be a vascular scientist before the call of musicianship became too strong. She began penning her own material after singing blues covers at her first gig and went on to write a song with Ed Harcourt early on in her music career which was accompanied by a Nick Knight video. However, Delta is now a one woman songwriting operation.
â€œI am a solo writer and my whole dream is to have an album written exclusively by me,â€ she states. â€œThat was the dream from day one.â€
A religiously acoustic performer, Delta is already making a name for herself in folk, blues and alt.country circles, supporting the likes of Turin Brakes, Retribution Gospel Choir and Megafaun, with her sublime Mersey delta sound.
Drawing parallels between the down home lyrics of delta blues and with her own upbringing in Liverpool, Deltaâ€™s life isnâ€™t as far removed from the Mississippi-based music that has inspired her as you might think.
â€œThereâ€™s something really honest about it,â€ explains Delta. â€œItâ€™s not convoluted in any way. I feel thatâ€™s what Liverpoolâ€™s got in common with delta blues, because thereâ€™s a lot of honesty there – we tend to wear our hearts on our sleeves. A lot of the language, believe it or not, is quite similar.â€
Even though sheâ€™s never been to the Deep South in a geographical sense, Delta has sonically hitchhiked her way cross-country, from Laurel Canyon down to Louisiana, Alabama and the Appalachian Trail and through the capital cities of country and blues – Nashville and Memphis – via the grooves in her exhaustive record collection.
Happily, Deltaâ€™s brother has now recovered and is currently in the studio with her as she records her debut album in Liverpool. In the meantime, prepare yourself for Deltaâ€™s modern take on the blues to seep into your soul, just like the sounds of the South have crept into hers. Delta Maid
Broken Branches EP released July 26th www.myspace.com/deltamaid
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