[SOUL FOR REAL] The Shaky Hands were never known for dynamism. The band’s four albums had a strangely flat quality that Nick Delffs and company only ever surmounted when playing live. But hearing the new full-length from Delffs’ Death Songs has me hopeful for the Shaky Hands’ potential future.
That is to say, from the sounds of Sung Inside a House, Delffs has finally managed to bring the frolicsome nature of his live work into the studio. In doing so, he’s managed to inject this 11-song collection with generous amounts of soul.
That “soul” takes on different connotations throughout this fine album. There’s the influence of actual soul music that seeps through “Giving,” a slow-burning, horn-accented waltz. Opening track “Overdose” and the band’s version of Dick Blakeslee’s anthemic “Passing Through” follow suit, bursting out of the speakers like a Motown 45. The other side of the soul coin is the mood that pervades Delffs’ vocals, and the instrumental performances from him and his bandmates. Even in the form of a piano ballad or jumpy folk-pop, Sung is imbued with a spirit that can be joyful or ruminative, and occasionally—as with the loving ode to his “New Son”—a delightful combination of the two.
SEE IT: Death Songs play the Know, 2026 NE Alberta St., on Saturday, Oct. 20. 8 pm. 21+.