Carrie Rodriguez and The Sacred Hearts
Thirty Tigers/Luz Records
Gorgeous and Atmospheric Mix of American and Mexican Roots Music.
I first saw Carrie Rodriguez when she played alongside the legendary Chip Taylor several years ago. It was patently obvious what a talent she was that night; especially her trademark fiddle playing; but when she stepped forward to sing there was an audible gasp from the audience.
A couple of years later she appeared on her own at the SummerTyne Festival; tucked away in an afternoon slot; but as many people were left outside of the hall as was inside.
Within months she headlined the same venue and her name is now revered around these here parts in the North East of England.
Which brings us to this delightful; left of centre release.
The artwork is certainly eye catching and unlike any of her previous releases; but then again so is the music contained inside.
Paired up with a bunch of musicians who are all at the very top of their profession – guitarists Bill Frisell, Luke Jacobs and David Pulkington, drummer Brannen Temple and bass player Viktor Krauss Carrie sings an eclectic mix of old and new Rootsy songs from either side of the Rio Grande; interpreting each one in her own inimitable manner.
The album opens with Perfidia; which I first heard on a Glen Miller LP that my Mother played; and it sounded nothing like this. Here Carrie, accompanied by Raul Malo, takes on the role of a sultry temptress and purrs the words in Spanish while the coolest hacienda band in the world strum the life out their instruments in the background.
Later she sings in English too; but her voice is so warm and honeyed, the language matters not a jot.
To some degree you can listen to LOLA as a soundtrack to an imaginary Western Movie; as the stories all have that feel about them.
Taking that as a theme; the cornerstone would be I Dreamed I Was Lola Beltran; a moving story that conjures up images of a beautiful but broken, woman pouring her heart out late at night in the rear of a smoky bar somewhere in the dangerous side of town.
Another cool and interesting song is Z, with Carrie sounding a lot more ‘rockier’ than I’ve heard before; and the lap-steel and bottleneck guitars fight with the shimmering cymbals and drums, like a knife fight behind her.
While most songs are written by Carrie herself or as co-writes; some of my favourite songs here are actually her re-interpretations of traditional Mexican Folk songs and sung in her native Spanish. Noche De Ronde and especially Si No Te Vas; which closes the record are staggering in their simplicity but the range her voice glides effortlessly from and to will send shivers down your spine; even if you don’t know what she’s singing about.
While individual songs like the riveting The West Side stand out; this is very much an album that needs time; and to be really, listened to in one full sitting.
Released February 19th 2016