Paul deLay: Ocean Of Tears

Paul deLay offers a wholly different take on blues harp with Ocean Of Tears (Evidence, 44:41), his first release since serving a 41-month prison sentence. Aside from boasting some of the best harmonica facility this side of Howard Levy, man mountain deLay is also an accomplished songwriter. Rather than running down the same cliches you hear in song after song by white boy blues wannabes, deLay has a knack for telling tales in personal terms that relate to larger truths, as he does so slyly on “Bottom Line,” “Maybe Our Luck Will Change” and “Don’t Shame Me.” He reveals with his own plight of being a recovering addict on “Slip, Stumble, Fall” and deals in some clever wordplay on the gospel-flavored “In Win.” DeLay’s insights into the human condition, sung with soulful gusto against a backdrop of tenor sax, Hammond B-3 organ, harmonica and rhythm section, is what makes Ocean Of Tears sound fresh by comparison to the ocean of mediocre blues records that are churned out with seeming indifference each month.