Having lurked in Toronto’s shadows for a number of years, Deloro stepped into the light in 2011 with this, their self-titled debut, and only release to date. Along with visual artist Tony Romano, the five-piece is comprised of some of the biggest talents in Canadian music: Jennifer Castle, David Clarke (One Hundred Dollars), Paul Mortimer (One Hundred Dollars), and Dallas Wherle (Constantines). The group’s differing musical personalities bring out something remarkable in one another, and with songwriting and vocal contributions from all five members, Deloro is truly a sum of its parts.
The subdued opener “My Country” immediately establishes the album’s melancholic tone with a gently plucked guitar carrying the song forward as voices float in and out. It’s all a haze and, like the rest of Deloro, sounds like it was written and recorded in the dead of winter. Jennifer Castle steps to the front on “Traveling Man,” one of the album’s more rousing numbers. With pendulum-like percussion filling the space left in the wake of Mortimer’s searing lead guitar, it’s a grittier companion to “Poor As Him,” from Castle’s own excellent 2011 release, Castlemusic.
David Clarke’s “Joy Joy” is the album’s perfect encapsulation, and perhaps its brightest moment. Though the song sounds rather downtrodden at first, the chorus brings remarkable clarity and resolution as Clarke and Castle’s voices combine to shoulder the burden. “No Fun” takes Deloro in yet another direction as Tony Romano’s unsteady voice cuts through the fog of the song as voices and instruments spar in the background. Paul Mortimer’s “Years” and “Nostalgia R.I.P.” bring the ever-prevalent cosmic country influence to the forefront.
After the lighthearted romp of “Ain’t No Business,” an incredibly distorted guitar introduces “Watertower,” seemingly Jennifer Castle’s paean to both lost love and a Toronto neighborhood of old. “I am a water tower up on my stilts,” she sings, sounding as tall and proud as the structure she’s describing. The combination of her honey slide-sweet voice and the twisted guitar marks another of the record’s highest points. Closing the album is the stomping “Take Me As I Am,” leading into “Doesn’t Take Much,” which ends Deloro on a deceptively serene note. All is accounted for, last shots are taken, and after a Crazy Horse-esque breakdown, the record ends with a stunning vocal harmony. “I’ll be on the way / Smoke and signal call / It’s harder by the fire” are Deloro’s last words and it’s the perfect summation of the beautiful duality Deloro presents: dark and light, hope and despair. words / k evans