The Deslondes are a New Orleans-based band, whose raw, stripped-down sound springs to mind a country-meets-Southern-R&B hybrid rooted partly in the Texas singer/songwriter tradition, partly on the weathered floor of a Louisiana dance hall.
The group, comprised of Sam Doores (vocals/guitar), Riley Downing (vocals/guitar), Dan Cutler (vocals/stand-up bass), Cameron Snyder (vocals/percussion) and John James Tourville (pedal steel/fiddle), is a true democratic collective.
“Even before we started this group,” says Doores, “when I was just playing with Cameron, we always had the idea that it would be fun to be in a band where there were multiple singers and multiple songwriters, and where everybody had a voice and can play multiple instruments — a true collaboration that’s greater than the sum of its parts and is still cohesive.”
The Deslondes is the band’s self-titled debut on venerable New West Records. This freshman effort has already picked up pre-release praise from the likes of NPR’s resident critic Ann Powers, who spotlighted their first single, “Fought the Blues and Won,” and called the fivesome “deft assemblers of a sound that traverses decades and style with humble grace.”
“A creative balance between five different people is naturally a precarious one,” says Cutler. “There’s a lot of push and pull going on at all times. The Deslondes are more democratic than any band I’ve ever been in, and most bands I’ve witnessed out in the world. There are many benefits though and from an audience perspective there is plenty of variety and a lot of things to pay attention to. It also adds a bit of healthy competition to the mix, which is a good motivator for the band.”
“One of the major pluses of being a collective,” Snyder notes, “is that we always have a lot of material to work with. And with five songwriters and four singers, we are able to reflect a lot of influences in our sound.” Adds Downing, “I feel like we’re all open to anything, if it feels right, whether it’s a slow, sad country song or a fast barnburner of a rock ’n’ roll song.”
“We all have different strengths,” continues Downing. “I didn’t even know how to harmonize when I joined this band, but Dan taught me how by playing me a whole bunch of Swan Silvertones, and old a cappella gospel stuff, pulling out the different parts, till it all kind of started making sense. Cameron and Dan are definitely the top harmonizers of the band. I’m lucky that I get to sing somewhat naturally, almost talk-singing, and those guys come up right underneath you and make it sound more powerful and really help your voice sit right.”
Referencing the piano-fueled style of album opener “Fought the Blues and Won,” which recalls Jerry Lee’s bluesy Nashville period of the late ‘60s and early ‘70s, Downing says, “That’s definitely Sam.”