The opening cut from The Delines’ gentle new record The Imperial is titled “Cheer Up Charley.” But it sure ain’t cheery. “Cheer up Charley, you know, your wife, she ain’t coming back. And I know she left you flat…And you’re using up all your vacation days on a job you’ll never get back…” And yet, the music isn’t depressing at all. It has a smooth 1970s vibe, easy sway, and, hey, if I was Charley it might actually cheer me up. A little. In a realistic way.

And that’s the album. It’s not sad, but it’s slow. It’s not a bummer, but it’s serious. It’s about tragedy. It’s about failure and pain.

The Delines’ lead singer was sidelined by a car wreck, so hearing Amy Boon sing about loss and recovery makes total sense. The band, which is made up of members of Richmond Fontaine band and The Minus 5, are perfectly suited for the mood. The songs almost feel like they’re written by late 1970s Van Morrison. Especially “Where Are You Sonny?”, one of my favorite cuts.

It’s easy soul, and it’s excellent. Highly recommended.

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