Saturday 9th November 2019
St John the Evangelist, 109a Iffley Road, Oxford, OX4 1EH
Doors 7.30 pm
Tickets £18 in advance, £21 on the night
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.
Three years after their momentum was so rudely interrupted, the band finally released ‘The Imperial’ on January 11th 2019 via Décor Records, picking 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).
Upon its release, ‘Colfax’ earned the Delines plaudits from fans, critics and tastemakers like the Drive-by Truckers’ Patterson Hood, who picked them as 2014’s best new band in No Depression. Uncut gave ‘Colfax’ nine out of 10 stars, praising its “widescreen romanticism” and proclaiming it “the richest collection of songs Vlautin has written.” ‘Colfax’ wound up on a dozen yearend top-10 lists and snagged a couple of album-of-the-year accolades — a remarkable feat for a band that had never played live and had rehearsed for only a week before recording.
“Colfax was an experiment,” Vlautin says. “The Imperial is the result of touring, solidifying the lineup and months of rehearsal.” By the time they began recording it in Portland with producer John Morgan Askew, they had successfully toured Europe and Australia, including sold-out dates in the U.K. and Ireland. Unfortunately, Boone’s accident put a stop to everything. “We were all just devastated when Amy got hit,” Vlautin says. “I mean, she was just walking on a sidewalk in a parking lot, and the next thing you know …”
The next thing was nine surgeries, painful skin grafts and learning to walk again (she now uses a cane crafted by a band mate). It took two years before she was able to fly from Austin to Portland to finish the album.