CD Review – Delta Time “Hans Theessink and Terry Evans”
With vocalist Bobby King, Terry Evans provided the ethereal gospel harmonies on Ry Cooder’s ‘70s era recordings and tours, also recording two albums with King: Live and Let Live’88 and Rhythm, Blues, Soul, and Grooves in ‘90, singing lead on “Down in Mississippi” from the ’86 movie Crossroads, based on Robert Johnson’s life.
Ry Cooder fans will want to snap this one up. It’s like a time capsule with shards of Cooder’s ‘70s work lying around. He only plays on three cuts, but you get your money’s worth every time he steps up, guitar in hand.
“How Come People Act Like That” is classic Cooder, a rousing foot stomper with Cooder sliding along like a greasy, backwoods angel. “Blues Stay Away From Me” has Cooder ghosting along in the background with some ethereal slide work while Evans, Theessink, Willie Greene Jr. and Arnold McCuller add beatific vocal harmonies. He slows things down a bit on the gospel-tinged blues, “Shelter From the Storm,”with Theessink rumbling around in the bassment offering his intended beloved a harbor in his arms. Cooder’s accompaniment is so pretty it brings tears to your eyes.
You could just stop right there and go home satisfied. But root around a bit and you’ll discover that Theessink has obviously studied Cooder and adapted his style of down home pickin’ as well on mandolin, banjo, and slide guitar. The title cut is a laid-back ode to Mississippi mud time where things go at a slower pace and a more comfortable rhythm.
Jewel Aikens’ ’65 hit “The Birds and the Bees” seems a weird choice for inclusion until you discover that Evans sang on the original release. The remake is a little more rattly and trebly-interesting, but unlike most things that Evans tackles, not quite as good as the original.
But he more than makes for it on the rest of the cuts. “I Need Money” sounds like it fell off Cooder’s ’74 masterpiece Paradise and Lunch.
Theessinks’ guitar is soft and understated, gliding gently underneath Evans and company’s breathless, soaring harmonies on “Pouring Water On a Drownin’ Man.”
This stripped down, bare-bones acoustic version is as soulful as James Carr’s electric classic. Even if Evans’ worshipfully shouted “Woo Lawds” are used in a secular sense, it’s still heavenly,
“Honest I Do” is so Cooderish in tone and content it could have come from the same source. Evans’ revelation of the man-hunting history of his home state on “Down In Mississippi” has had its electricity turned off, but there’s still plenty of power. This version is even starker than the original, with Theessink’s tasteful slide underscoring the grim lyrics and Evans’ gravely shouts of praise for being delivered from a similar fate.
Delta Time underscores Evans’ past Cooder connection, revitalizing his legacy with brand new gospel-tinged soul that’s been too long coming. More please, and plenty of it.