Pull up to the counter—today’s menu features “a journey through love, loss, acceptance and the struggles of being a human,” all served up by Andrew “Deli” Dell Isola
Forgive me lord, for I am about to get real weird with what, for this piece, is absolutely the most obvious of metaphors.
Life is like a deli…. you never know what you’re gonna get.
Deli. Bodega. Cornerstore. Call it what you will. If you want to get existential with it (walk with me), these NYC minimarts could even be considered microcosms of the human experience… or at least, in some way, symbolic of them. We’re all just cruising through the aisles of this existence, after all. Selecting specific experiences while avoiding others, realizing with dismay that the opportunities we desired might have already expired but frequently being surprised, and delighted, by what’s in store instead.
Coffee, stamps, cigarettes. College, art, drugs. Shampoo, socks, scratch-offs. Tattoos, travel, pets. Plantain chips, pork rinds or a paper bagged beer. Kids, house, monogamy… maybe a partial lobotomy.
Like your neighborhood market, this life is stocked with choices to make and chances to take. And no matter what you or I opt for during our visit… at the end, well, we’ve all got no choice but to check out.
Art, at its core, is our attempt to make sense of this living experiment and the thoughts, feelings and relationships that define it. To pull from the unique and personal—the only thing we really know—to craft something that, by nature of its truth, speaks to the human in us all.
Enter Good Deli (we’ve reached our destination; thanks for riding), the solo project of Andrew “Deli” Dell Isola, whose album feels like the perfect product of this practice and has been spinning—in the Soundcloud sense—on repeat at Chez Sam since it arrived early in my inbox this week. And today, a day ahead of its official drop, I could not be more thrilled to premiere it here.
From Good Deli, this is Delivision.
“Delivision is a journey through love, loss, acceptance and the struggles of being a human, underneath a circus tent of saturated rock and roll, dripping with steamy goodness, served on a silver platter for you to enjoy,” the artist said of his debut album. “I am Deli, and this is the view from my eyes.”
Straight to your ears.
Describing music itself has never been my strong suit, but this album is reminiscent of so many works I love (by local artists, of course). In parts of Delivision, I sense the jangly earnestness of JW Francis, some sweet-n-surfy Jelly Kelly-style segments and a Petite League-like lyrical gift for making poetry out of the perfectly mundane.
Surprises (and sound effects) are aplenty, while silliness and sincerity are employed equally and expertly to express emotion—and, most notably, the fun truly comes through. It’s not always the case, but it seems to be the commonality when I examine the records I truly love: When listening to this album, you can recognize you’re witnessing someone doing what they love to do, what they’re meant to do. And for a music fan, and a person, there’s nothing more satisfying.
Ahead of the release, Deli shared a bit on each of the album’s 12 tracks, which pull inspiration from stranger trauma and stranger drama… his heart aching and his back breaking… Captain Crunch, Bart Simpson and a beloved gambling grandmother who may or may not be known as Betty (alias implemented to protect the awesome).
DELIVISION—TRACK BY TRACK:
“Before My Day”
“This song is a self-reflective tune about losing part of yourself. The first line in the song, ‘My doctor said my prescription read more of you’, is the doctor telling me that I need to get back to caring about myself. Don’t let go of yourself, and don’t forget what it feels like to be a kid. ‘Before My Day’ is about getting back to yourself, and your routine every morning to make yourself feel comfortable to take on the day.”
“Hand Me Your Bags”
“One night at a bar, I was feeling down on myself and stressed, and I met a person who immediately dumped a heaping plate of trauma onto my lap. Listening to their hardships made me realize that maybe I was doing ok, and the grass is always greener on the other side.”
“My Red Nose”
“The origin of this tune also came from a late-night bar experience. I was ready to leave and a person came up to me on my way out and tried to pull a drunken move, to which I denied. They were offended that I did not want to participate and drunkenly scolded me. To which I replied, ‘you may look at me like I’m some sort of clown, that is because I am,’ and I sauntered away. This song is supposed to be a call and response sort of thing, to which the drunk person says to me ‘salty water on my lips I want to feel your hips.'”
“This is a fun tune about the fear of missing out, and my love of breakfast cereal.”
“When I was 22 I worked as a caterer, pulling a cart of hot food through the streets of New York City, and setting the food up for business meetings and corporate lunches. I had to haul this heavy cart through subway stations, up and down stairs, all over the city, and I had to pull its tiny, off-kilter wheels over every soiled hot dog bun, rat carcass, and everything else beautiful New York sidewalks have to offer. The Hudson Yards train station is decorated with a beautiful cobble-stone path, and from my wheel description you may see how frustrated I became. Breaking my back delivering food that I could not afford with my pay to an office full of bigwigs with starched collars wore me down.”
“Erotomania is the phenomenon of seeing ‘signs’ about a lover or partner, current or ex, that aren’t really there. In example, seeing a license plate with a significant number, or hearing a song in a supermarket that seems like it’s there just for you to hear. ‘Until the morning, whisking through my thoughts, I see another sign that proves I’ve lost. Lie awake until the morning light, I see another sign that proves I’m right.’ I wrote this tune after the most significant heartbreak of my life so far, and to this day I still see signs. It still hurts every time I play it, but that’s music, it should make you feel something.”
“Like a Blue Rose”
“A blue rose does not exist in nature, it is merely a flower drained of its essence, and replaced with an enticing artificial blue color. There are many days where I wake up and feel like a blue rose, like a copy with a fresh coat of paint. This song deals with the struggles of feeling unoriginal, feeling like a double, or feeling like you are viewed from a bubble. Go watch Twin Peaks, you’ll understand.”
“I wrote this tune for one of the most special people in my life. Before them I had never known what true happiness felt like in my life, the feeling of giddiness just by hearing them cackle, or seeing them smile. Pulling an all-nighter for no reason other than time flying by. This song deals with the feeling of not being enough for this person, because of just how immensely great they are, but not caring because of how special they are, and how special they make you feel. I felt like every night was a 1950s sock hop, dancing the hours away with my favorite person. Cherish the people in your life, they may not be around forever.”
“I’m Your Man“
“This is a song about a co-dependent relationship, with a rippin’ harmonica solo! Shout out to Sam Paek on the horn section!”
“‘The Boy Who Cried Wolf’ is a story everyone should learn a lesson from. Don’t lie to the people you love, tell them the truth even if it causes pain. The pain of the lie is always worse.”
“Betty is not the name of my grandmother, but this tune is about growing up around her gambling addiction. She was the greatest woman to walk the Earth, but couldn’t resist the sweet sweet smell of a 7/11 scratcher. This song started as a simple indie rock blaster, but after Ryan Katz got his hands on it, it became the groovy masterpiece it is today. Ryan helmed the instrumental section with some beautiful auxiliary percussion and completely changed the vibe of the tune, in the best way possible. This song became one of my favorites on the album, and it would be very different without Ryan’s groovy brain!”
“A kwyjibo is described as a ‘big, dumb, balding, North American ape, with no chin and a short temper’ by Bart Simpson in 1990. This is a self-deprecation song that also deals with the acceptance of oneself. It’s a song I wrote during a bout of seasonal depression, and it was the final tune I wrote before I started recording the album. This song features a sultry saxophone solo by Samuel Paek, and some amazingly tasty keys by the legend, Oskar O. Some days you feel like crumpling up into a little ball, and that is perfectly ok. Take some time to think, and relax. Don’t move too fast, cherish the ones around you.
‘Don’t cry for me, I’m already dead.’ -Barney Gumble”
Catch Good Deli on September 24th at Bowery Electric with Winkler! See ya there~
Feature image (provided by the band): Samantha Ruby Blieden