Sometimes, fate’s just a damned cruel thing. But when it nearly capsizes the career of an acclaimed band in the blink of an eye, the band’s only prudent choice is to hang in there until the ship is ready to sail again. That’s what The Delines did while supporting the recovery of lead singer Amy Boone, who underwent three years of treatment and rehab after both her legs were severely broken when she was hit by a car in Austin, Texas. What sustained their spirit, according to guitarist and songwriter Willy Vlautin, was knowing they already had most of their sophomore album, The Imperial, in the can.
The band finally released The Imperial in 2019 via Décor Records. It went straight in at number 1 where it stayed for two weeks and a further two in the top 4, the entire UK and Irish tour sold out and the press and radio loved it. It picked up where they left off following their stellar 2014 debut, Colfax. Like that album, The Imperial features Damnations, TX co-founder Boone evoking a beat-up Dusty Springfield or a weary Rickie Lee Jones on 10 tracks penned by Vlautin, who is also lead singer/songwriter for Richmond Fontaine whom broke up in 2016 and an acclaimed novelist (two of his books have become major films). The band are currently working on their new album which will be released in 2021.
Equally adept at sounding broken-hearted and optimistic, weary and resilient, Boone conveys Vlautin’s characters in a voice that’s grittier than Bobbie Gentry’s and more lonesome than Sammi Smith’s, and steeped in the soul-ballad tradition. It’s the voice Vlautin fell in love with when he first heard it during a tour Richmond Fontaine did with Damnations, TX, the band Boone had formed with her sister, Deborah Kelly.
Portland’s Freddy Trujillo signed on to play bass. Sean Oldham ex of Richmond Fontaine on drums, multi-instrumentalist Cory Gray stepped in to round out the band’s cinematic, late-night country-soul sound with keyboard and trumpet.