For a band hailing from all points, home can mean a lot of things. There's the South, from Arkansas to North Carolina, and families and roots planted across the country, and there's the wide-open road and the shows paving the way between them. Then there's The Deslondes' homebase in New Orleans, where the group has shared songs in dim bars and at backyard campfires on the band's namesake street in Holy Cross by a slight turn tucked behind the Mississippi River levee.
With The Deslondes' second full-length album Hurry Home, the New Orleans' country- and R&B-influenced honky tonkers (Dan Cutler, Sam Doores, Riley Downing, Cameron Snyder and John James Tourville) channel American roots music, gospel, electrified R&B, country and folk on the 13 songs culled from the songbooks among them. Hurry Home is out June 23 on New West Records.
The band's songs often reflect the bittersweetness of leaving home, coming back to it, or the urge to "hurry up and get home" while on the road and the restlessness to start rambling again, says bassist and songwriter Cutler. "There's a lot of feelings when we're home to be out there, to start moving," he says. "People's idea of home is really sort of romanticized and mixed up with a lot of feelings of nostalgia."
The album cover — a deep blonde- and peach-colored roadway meeting a sunset seemingly pulled from a widescreen Ed Ruscha landscape — "looks like an old memory of something," Cutler says. "But in real life, it's a picture outside of Riley's house in Missouri," painted by Downing's father and hanging in the family home.
"Sometimes it looks like that — sometimes it's just a highway," he says. "Your idea of beauty and image of home in your memories are idealistic and can be surrealistic, I guess."
The band recorded rhythm tracks in the summer-humid Tigermen Den in Bywater with longtime producer Andrija Tokic, who helmed the band's 2015 self-titled debut from his studio in Nashville.
"There's a lot of mojo in the wooden shotguns in the houses and in the wood," Cutler says. "You can hear a lot of that in the quieter parts of the album. ... We took it back to Nashville and put a bunch of shit on it, but in the quiet songs, you can hear it."
Those sweat-stained early sessions include the vibrating, dreamy blues of "Just In Love with You," the doo-wop specter of "She Better Be Lonely," and album opener "Muddy Water," a wistful, heavy-slow piano blues buzzing with childhood nostalgia. Downing's song is bookended by his "Deja Vu and a Blue Moon," an ode to the roadlife and all its trappings.
The album throughout is powered by electric organ, rolling piano and lap steel, threaded by close harmonies in the foreground, with no lyric left out of the spotlight.
"They're kind of all of our songs," Cutler says. "People talk about how there are five songwriters and they write all their songs. ... Everybody came up with ideas, but the rest of the band turns them into a song. In particular, if another band played these songs, they'd sound completely different. We have our thing."