Delta Rae w/ Liz Longley
The Crocodile, Seattle, WA

Hot, sweaty, sticky, and abuzz:  all words that can aptly describe Delta Rae’s show at The Crocodile in Seattle. With Seafair week ramping up, plenty of service men and women were in attendance for the North Carolina country-pop powerhouse band whose harmonies and energy are becoming a staple on the national stage and the festival circuit.

Beginning the night in long flowing layers with a sparkle in her eye was singer-songwriter Liz Longley. A huge contrast from the powerful four-part harmonies of Delta Rae, it was just Longley on stage telling stories from the road and performing some tunes off her new album, Weightless. Her stage presence was light and airy, and she treated the audience to a very intimate trip down a road of break-ups and comings-of-age.

If you have listened to any “coffee-house” station on Pandora or Spotify, you have probably heard her song “When You’ve Got Trouble,” which she sang beautifully with a hint of melancholy. Another stand-out song from her set was “Weightless,” the title track from her latest offering. After a series of songs about heartbreak, this song had a similar theme with a different ending, one in which she cuts all the anchors in her life in order to become free. A fitting and uplifting break.

Delta Rae’s evolution from a contemporary pop-rock ensemble to country soul singers seemed to be the natural order. So many of their songs are about or centered around their North Carolina roots. That is what makes their new EP, A Long and Happy Life, a special one.

The first song of their set, “Moved South,” encompassed this transition. “I moved down South where they still make rock and roll.” It also doesn’t hurt this lyric in the song, “…from Atlanta to Seattle we sing gospel and soul…”

Lead singers Brittany Holljes and Elizabeth Hopkins anchor the band with their powerfully resonating voices, Holljes’ siblings Ian and Eric provide solid back-up (and sometimes lead vocals) along with their keyboard and guitar talents, and finally the rhythms of drummer Mike Mckee and bassist Grant Emerson are the driving force behind their thunderous sound.

With songs like “Chasing Twisters,” “Run,” and “Morning Comes,” their sheer talent is evident via four-part harmonies and the power that comes with it is disarming. All positive messages of hope, freedom, and perseverance, their songs tell different stories that a majority of listeners can pull a lesson from or relate to.

If their anthems are what bring the crowds, their turn to tenderness and honesty is what makes fans loyal. The honesty in their ballads is endearing and heart wrenching. Ian prefaced “No Peace In Quiet” by describing a crushing break-up and Hopkins’ performance of “If I Loved You” left but a few dry eyes in the crowd.

Their set was well-balanced and ended with “Dance In The Graveyards,” a song about moving on in the face of death and celebrating the life of the ones who are lost. It demonstrated the lovely chemistry that is at the core of what makes this band such a joy to listen to.

The air was thick at the Crocodile on this night, but Delta Rae was able to cut through it with their no-nonsense approach to music and the connection it makes with their fans from North to South.

Review and photos by Phillip Johnson

Delta Rae

Liz Longley