The Mavericks PLAY THE HITS

The Mavericks
Play The Hits
Mono Mundo/Thirty Tigers

If Ever Tarantino or Scorsese Needs a Bar Band then Look No Further.

Probably because they’ve been around forever The Mavericks have covered many different bases in their history; yet sadly are still stereotyped because of a couple of billion selling singles.
Here they ‘go back to their Roots’; but not the Roots you’d first imagine as these are all songs that they love from the radio growing up; or even from their earlier Bar Band days in Miami ……. which is the angle I’ve used to get the most out of this eclectic collection.
I’ve never heard the sassy and well named opening track Swingin’ before; although I’m assured it was a ‘hit’ for John Anderson but I sure do recognise the next song; Are You Sure Hank Done It This Way. Perhaps an odd choice; but listen to the depth in the story and the way The Mavericks add their own special ‘magic dust’ and it’s a musical marriage made in Heaven.
The band’s signature Tex-Mex ‘sound’ only comes into play on a couple of songs, with Blame It On Your Heart and their fascinating and beautiful re-invention of Springsteen’s Hungry Heart; which now becomes a beautiful Friday night shuffle in these capable hands.
To some extent singer Raul Malo has been down this path before but here with The Mavericks in full flow he really can twist a song around until it sounds nothing like the original; nor The Mavericks either, with Don’t Be Cruel now sounding like a Big Band tune and Blue Eyes Crying in The Rain a gentle heartbreaking croon; akin to Andy Williams singing alongside Jose Feliciano.
A s expected , there are surprises (good ones) around every corner. I love the tones in Why Can’t She Be You and by the time you get to album closer, the Elvistastique I’m Leaving It Up To You, the listener can be forgiven for feeling emotionally shattered, and they will be by the time this fabulously delicate and heart-pounding love song finally ends.
Then there is the difficult choice for Favourite Track status.
Will it be Hank Cochran’s tearjerker Don’t You Ever Get Tired (Of Hurting Me?) or the more contemporary duet with Martina McBride, Once Upon a Time? Both certainly have their merits and both have tugged at my own heartstrings over the last couple of weeks; but there’s something really enthralling about the latter that has brought me back to it, and it alone a few times today that the title of RMHQ Favourite Song goes to Once Upon a Time.
To some degree this album will confuse several long term Mavericks fans; but as a stand alone album; it is what it is and I’ve had a barrel of fun listening to it and imagining The Mavericks being the House Band in something like The Sopranos or even a Tarantino movie.

Released November 1st 2019
https://www.themavericksband.com/
Buy it here https://themavericksmerchworld.com/collections/play-the-hits


Bard Edrington V Espadín

Bard Edrington V
Espadín
self-release

Songs, Stories and Tunes That Capture The Spirit and Majesty of the New Mexico Borderlands.

I don’t know which excites me more; receiving albums from Big Labels and PR’s promoting Household Name acts, (which sort of makes what we do feel appreciated after all these years) or the handmade self-releases from acts looking for a break who have stumbled on the site via a review of a friend or possibly an act that they are fond of. (It’s the latter, actually).
Bard Edrington V from Santa Fe, New Mexico falls into the latter camp and even before I tell you about his music; my world is a better place for discovering his music!
Without ever being an overtly ‘political album’ Edrington sings about his homeland of New Mexico and evokes all kinds of imagery that will stimulate your imagination like a Steinbeck novel; starting with the passionate Maidenhair, which will bring some amazing pictures to your head as you live the song alongside Bard’s gently expressive voice.
As a touring musician, Edrington taps into many different aspects of Rootsy Americana to tell his strident stories; using a raw Mariachi sound on the haunting Take Three Breaths and later the deep Gold and Black Mare.
I guess the subject matter and the way he builds his stories makes me think of Tom Russell, Dave Alvin and Ray Wylie Hubbard; but there’s something about his songs Southern Belle and Painted Pony which takes those three as a starting point and leaps forward into a whole new contemporary arena.
As is the way in the Borderlands, musicians can flit from one genre to another in the blink of an eye; and here Bard utilises some kind of ‘Southern Gothic Blues’ on Mango Tree to tell to capture the senses and smells of this magical area.
I’ve talked a few times about the ‘romance’ that Americana Music can induce in City Slickers and foreigners (like me) alike; and Edrington does that with ease and grace with the Appalachian toe-tapper Rendezvous Duel which sparkles and shines like Townes at his hoariest best; and it’s probably true of most other songs here too.
Sitting here in the Spring sunshine it’s proving incredibly difficult to find a single track that I like better than the rest. Spread My Wings is a wonderful Country Love Song, with a fabulous harmonica solo and Riverside Blues shows what a magnificent guitar-picker Edrington is, and the song itself is more than a bit good too; but I’m going for the title track Espadín, as it really is the cornerstone that everything else is built around and as an individual unit has the ability to capture the essence of what Bard Erdington has tried to recreate like no other; and the guitar, mandolin and violin interplay is quite majestic too.
As I said earlier, this certainly isn’t a ‘protest album’ in any shape or form; and nor is it a ‘Rock Opera’ , it’s just a guy and some friends celebrating the various cultures that collide and co-exist across the Borders of America and Mexico in the 21st Century and he’s done it in a way that is well worthy of the attention of fans of Townes, Guy, Tom, Dave and Ray or the countless others who inhabit this glorious area.
While he has recorded three previous albums with his bands; this is Bard Edrington’s debut as a solo performer and really feels like a coming of age for a singer-songwriter who knows and feels what he wants to write and sing about regardless of commercial success ……. but which will surely come, as he has talent in every pore of his body.

Released USA May 3rd 2019
Released UK & Europe June 3rd 2019
https://www.bardedrington.com/

https://bardedrington.bandcamp.com/album/espad-n?fbclid=IwAR25v4MAdzUOoEUn0Tw8EUERbPIWwv4dw8vSQU7B7cKP9iEEpzFNn4P2Itc




Los Pacaminos VIVA! Los Pacaminos LIVE!

los pacaminos VIVA

Los Pacaminos
VIVA! Los Pacaminos LIVE!
Recado Records.

The Most Authentic Tex-Mex Band This Side of the Atlantic!

Do I start with a History Lesson about how London Pub Rock in the early 1970’s begat not only Punk Rock, but what we now know as Alt. Country all around the world; or do I just pile straight into this fire cracker of an album?
Let’s go for the latter shall we? I don’t want to bore or antagonise you 
Los Pacaminos are often lazily billed as Superstar, Paul Young’s band but they are so much more than that; as if you check out the CV of each musician you will see they are something of a mini-Supergroup in their own rite and us this format to have a blast whenever they can get the band together.
VIVA! LIVE! Is their fourth album and follows on from the immaculately titled A Fist Full of Statins from earlier last year; and really does showcase the best Bar Band in NW London at their very best in a club in Harrogate, North Yorkshire which is frequently compared to the border town of Tijuana, Mexico.
The party; and that’s the best way to describe a Los Pacaminos concert starts with a shady rendition of Highway Patrol and the whoops from the audience are 100% genuine and similar to the sounds inside my head as the guitars squeal and hiss as whoever is singing rumbles like a storm brewing in the dessert.

That’s the beauty of Los Pacaminos, even though Paul Young was/is a bonafide Pop Star, he’s more than happy to share the spotlight with his band mates.
As you would expect, the song selection is quite exceptional with Little Sister, A Little Bit is Better Than Nada and He’ll Have To Go all getting dusted off and gussied up for a night on the town; and even old nuggets like Smoke That Cigarette, Wooly Bully, the dazzling Come a Little Bit Closer and a favourite of Mama Magpie Edie, Wooly Bully somehow sound as fresh as the day they were recorded over half a century ago by their originators.
There’s even a Guest Spot from Honouree Pacamino, Senor Chris Difford who takes the lead on (the remixed) Tex Me I’m Yours which fits in like guacamole on a taco; and why no one thought of adding a slide and pedal-steel guitar to the original I will never know!
There are also a couple of originals in here too alongside the Classics; but things move along so quickly and there aren’t really any song intros; and the record cover misses these things out completely but I didn’t recognise Poor Boys or Girl From Tennessee but both are rip-roaring stonkers and quickly had me tapping my toes, swaying my hips and even miming along with their choruses; even though I’d never heard them before.
And it’s the same with both songs that became RMHQ Favourites after only two sittings; both Battered And Boozed and Our Favourite Things; could easily have been something the Blasters or Fabulous Thunderbirds would have played to a smoky and packed cantina somewhere sleazy and hot, ‘back in the day’……. Perhaps they did; and if they did I bet it was a great night there too!
In many ways there’s ‘nothing new’ here; but that misses the point completely this is an album and indeed audience paying homage to a cool genre of music (Tex Mex/Tejano) that has been airbrushed from the Americana History books in recent years; but still makes for a cracking good night of happy songs, dance tunes, love songs, break up songs and especially drinking songs when done as well as this.

Released November 2nd 2018
https://lospacaminos.com/

 

Johnny & Jaalene SELF-TITLED

johnny and jaalene cox

Johnny & Jaalene
SELF-TITLED
Rip Cat Records

Sexy and Sizzling Teenage SoCal-Chicano Rock & Roll.

A few months ago we reviewed the sizzling album by legendary LA Guitarist Kid Ramos, which featured a couple of songs by his son Johnny and we got quite giddy at the prospect of Ramos Jr. releasing his very own solo album; and here it is….well sort of.
Here he is joined by 16 year old Jaalene DeLeon from East LA and the young couple slink, slide and tease their way through a bunch of duets and songs where each gets to showcase their extraordinary singing voices.
First of all; if I’d spotted this fabulous album cover in the racks of my local record store I’d certainly have to ask the assistant to play a couple of tracks; and the moment I heard the sizzling remake of Baby I Love You I know I’d be fiddling in my pocket for £10 (or whatever CD’s cost these days.)
Just like the rest of the album Johnny & Jaalene take the Ronettes masterpiece and add their own Chicano and SoCal spices to make it bang up to date and perfect for the radio.
My tired old heart skipped a beat the first time I heard Jaalene singing Gee Whizz, which follows and the scene is set for a Party like it’s 1965 all over again!
There’s a charming naiveté to not just the lyrics in the songs here; but the way this young couple deliver them; although Kid Ramos and Tommy Harkenrider’s red hot guitar parts hint at more than a little bit of mischief is afoot too.
Enough time has passed to make the teenage couple’s choice of classy and classic songs sound as fresh as a mountain breeze for the chosen demographic, which is hormonal teenagers; as opposed to grey haired oldsters like me (and you?).
Man oh man; what’s not to like about Jaalene pouring her young heart out on the bouncy Good Lookin’ and the swoon-a-thon Angel Baby; and Johnny will have young girls going weak at the knees when they hear him give it his best Latino Eddie Cochran on Teenage Cutie and Rocking the Joint and while I haven’t translated them, when he purrs Los Chucos Suaves he sounds like a Tom Cat on heat!
For me there’s a delightful mix of styles here that really compliment the couple’s voices, which is why I was going to pick a song from each as my joint Favourite Songs with Johnny’s pleading, pleading interpretation of Doug Sahm’s Why, Why, Why sounding like he’s taken a lead from Johnny Ray! Then for Jaalene it pretty much has to be her dynamite version of Let’s Have a Party which also features some of the very best guitar playing Kid and Tommy supply on any track here.
But; and it’s the reason this album has the potential to be a huge hit; when Johnny & Jaalene duet…….yowza….yowza……..YOWZA! Once you hear the album finale One Summer Night you know why it’s the obvious choice for the esteemed title of RMHQ Favourite Song title, as it combines elements of the Grease soundtrack with a rocking and rolling accordion (supplied by Jesses Cuevas) and a band that sound like they’ve come straight to the studio from a Biker Gang’s birthday party.
Oh to be young again and discover music can be exciting, thrilling and even sexy for the first time; which is what will happen when teenagers discover Johnny and Jaalene.

Released September 21st 2018
https://www.facebook.com/JOHNNYANDJAALENE/

Laura Benitez & The Heartache WITH ALL IT’S THORNS

laura benitez x

Laura Benitez & The Heartache
WITH ALL IT’S THORNS
Copperhead Records

Articulate Backroads Southern Country Music That Will Break Your Heart.

I’ve said this more than once over the years, but even in this Digital Age, good or at least interesting Album artwork is still a key to the overall experience of buying new music; and here is another case of a cover that would make me pick it up if I was in a Record Store.
Then, if I was to ask the proprietor to play the first track (as we did in the olden days) track #1; the sublimely titled Something Better Than a Broken Heart would easily make me part with £10.
Sounding uncannily like a young Laura Cantrell fronting the coolest ever Texan Country bar band. The song is a doozy; bittersweet and beautiful in equal measures and boy oh boy; can that band swing.
This is followed by the spine tingling Easier Things to Do; which shows Laura Benitez ain’t no one trick pony. A perfect song for when you need to turn the lights down low and stare at the telephone; praying it will ring and that ‘certain someone’ will be on the other end.
Oddly enough only yesterday I read an interview with a singer who mentioned a reviewer complaining that his album had ‘too many different songs’ on it; and I agree with the singer; how is that a bad thing? Here Laura sings some gorgeously deep ballads (In Red and the sparse Ghostship about a fire in a artists collective that caused the death of 36 souls) and balances these with a a very danceable Twangfest on Whiskey Makes Me Love You and The Fool I Am Right Now, which is surely Patsy Cline inspired, and to round things off there’s even a lovely, but sad Bluegrass song Nora Went Down The Mountain to close the record.
Then of course there has to be an RMHQ ‘Favourite Song’ and with so many delights to choose from I’m going for the one with the softest centre; and it’s another heartbreaker….. Our Remember Whens; which truly showcases her warmly translucent voice and The Heartache in all their majestic glory.
Often when I write about songs on albums by new artists to me, (this is her third album since 2010), I occasionally imagine them sung by major stars. That certainly isn’t the case here as Laura Benitez has a really special singing voice; which is perfectly matched for her own heart-shredding songs of love, loss and hope which must all come from the experiences of a life well lived.

Released January 26th 2018
http://laurabenitezandtheheartache.com/index.html

The Mavericks – BRAND NEW DAY

mavericks bnd c

The Mavericks
BRAND NEW DAY
Mondo Mundo Recordings/Thirty Tigers

Saturday Night Starts Here!

I don’t know what, if anything is left to say about the Mavericks……first formed in the late 80’s in Miami to fill a void in the local music scene but subsequently creating a trademark ‘sound’ that is instantly recognisable all around the world.
Thankfully these are guys who have music coursing through their veins instead of blood and they keep writing songs that need to be sung, played, listened to and best of all……danced too!
While listening to opening track Rolling Along on a miserable grey and damp March Thursday in NE England; I was immediately transported to a mystical cantina somewhere North of the Rio Grande where the Mavericks, fronted by an ever smiling Raul Malo are the house band and the beer and wine flows non stop, and the dancing goes on until the wee small hours.
The song itself is an absolute delight with the musicians giving their collective all on a song full of hope and beauty.
While the Mavericks songwriting has ‘matured’ over the years; they never stray too far from the formula that makes fans come back for more, time and time again. While they are noted for their good time danceable songs like, Ride With Me and the Bossa Nova inspired Easy As It Seems; for me it’s the ballads that I love.
I had to do a double take when I first heard I Will Be Yours, as Malo’s heart-shredding vocal sounds uncannily like Roy Orbison performing a soft shoe shuffle.
The Goodnight Waltz is everything you would hope for from a song with that title on an album like this, turn the lights down low and let the world drift by as Raul Malo and friends take you on a dreamy journey along the tunnel of love.
While not exactly Black Sabbath; the title track Brand New Day is a lot rockier and the lyrics ‘heavier’ than normally associated with the Mavericks; but the punchy back-beat and emotional vocals coupled with words of hope, that many of us need to hear at the moment make for a Power Ballad Deluxe.
One of the things I’ve always loved about the Mavericks is the way they can blend various musical forms to create their own inimitable sound; and when I tell you one of my favourite songs here Ride With Me has a Ska groove, some swinging Tex-Mex accordion, Country Rock Guitar and sweet Latino Vocals you would think it wouldn’t work……but then you don’t know the Mavericks……it’s a joy from start to finish and could make a wooden leg tap out a beat.
Which all brings me around to the the RMHQ latest theme tune and favourite track…….Damned (If I Do) which opens with Eddie Perez making his guitar sound like an AK47 followed by a dark and brooding tune that fits my mood like a velvet glove. And, don’t get me started about the Satchmo style trumpet solos…….mind blowing!
What more can I say? The Mavericks have done it again; somehow managing to sound the same as ever, but also adding a whole new edgier sound than men of their age should be able to create this GOOD.

Released 24th March 2017

http://www.themavericksband.com/

The Mavericks – All Night LIVE (Vol 1)

mavericks-love-1

The Mavericks
All Night LIVE Vol 1
Mono Mundo Recordings

Possibly The Best Party In The World!

I’ve seen Raul Malo play live several time including with a Symphony Orchestra and the Mavericks; in all their pomp and glory twice; so to some degree I’ve been waiting for this album for several years.
There’s no disguising that this is the Mavericks from the swinging trademark instrumental intro to All Night Long; and when Raul Malo’s distinctive voice sweeps from the stereo after about a minute I knew that all was well with the world and the next hour and a half was going to be as good as music gets…..and I was correct.
Perhaps because The Mavericks actually had worldwide hits on the Pop Charts they don’t appear to be given the laurels that their music; and indeed success deserves, but I defy anyone to listen to All Over Again or Fall Apart and not tap a toe or shake a hip….I am doing both sitting at my desk!
It’s all too easy to think that the band are just a back-up for Malo; but when you see them live, or listen on this disc you realise the sum of the parts are very much equal to the total….with guitarist Eddie Perez showing from start to finish what an accomplished and underrated guitarist he is, and always has been. He can do ‘flashy’ when required….his solo on Come To Me is staggering in its intensity and quality but throughout he just adds flourishes of colour that embellish the songs in a way very few, if any can achieve.
But, the true trademark sound that defines The Mavericks is the rhythmic powerhouse drumming of founder member Paul Deakin and the coolest accordion player in the world, Mr. Michael Guerra, who alongside the Tex-Mex bass section form a flexible and unbreakable spine for the songs that Malo sings to take on a life of their own.
Obviously some of the Hits are here in all their glory, with Dance in The Moonlight taking it back to the sweaty Miami Saturday night it was originally meant to represent and Back In Your Arms Again; a personal favourite certainly doesn’t disappoint as the brass section even adds a bit of Ska to their playing if I’m not mistaken. That Ska chunka-chunka beat make a fulsome appearance later when the band let rip on I Said I Love You. A song I wasn’t familiar with, but one Mrs. Magpie and I now love!
That’s the joy of this album, there is surprise after surprise with songs like Stories We Could Tell, reminding me of the Big Bands my mother loved years ago, and Every Little Thing You Do showcases Malo at his crooning best.
But, the biggest surprise of all is the inclusion of Neil Young’s Harvest Moon. The opening bars piqued my interest but Guerra’s mournful accordion threw me off the scent; but this interpretation sounds like the song could actually have been written with the Mavericks in mind, not just an old hippy with an acoustic guitar.
The album, and party comes to an explosive end with the scintillating Come Unto Me, which showcases the talents of each musician then the gears are cranked up for We’re Waiting For The World To End, by which time band and audience must surely all have been exhausted but smiling like idiots.
After 25 years ‘in the business’ the Mavericks have had their collective ups and downs; but this Live album (Vol 1?) points to a bunch of guys who aren’t going to fade away gracefully….and nor should they.

http://www.themavericksband.com/

Released October 14th 2016

Los Pacaminos (featuring Paul Young) – A Fistful of Statins

los pacaminos deluxe statins

Los Pacaminos (featuring Paul Young)
A Fistful of Statins
Recado Records/Universal Music

If Quentin Tarantino Ever Wants a Spaghetti Western Soundtrack Album, Look No Further.

Just like London buses, you wait ages for one to come along; and lo and behold a shinier newer one arrives just behind the first one.
That’s what has happened here with Los Pacaminos’ first album being re-released only a few weeks ago; and now, here comes their ‘great lost’ 2015 album; repackaged with the addition of a few more wonderful new songs just waiting for your delectation.
I need to start with the album cover; a tongue in cheek homage to Clint Eastwood and Sergio Leone’s spaghetti Western series of films only updated to appease ‘men of a certain age;’ and it not only made me snigger, but made me want to know what was inside, which is surely the whole point of album artwork?
The album opens with a wonderfully atmospheric instrumental called Razorwire; which sounds a bit like the Shadows re-mixed by Ry Cooder…..which is a very good thing indeedy.
Arguably my favourite song, Jump Back Baby comes in next; and the Tex-Mex swing will have you hankering for a warm evening, sticky ribs on the BBQ and a pitcher full of margaritas.
Doesn’t take long for the party to really warm up; and I defy even Chief Ironsides not to want to dance to Don’t Make Me Wait Señorita, Mi Chorizo est Loco and the smoochy Come a Little Bit Closer.
Just like the best soundtracks; Los Pacaminos aint no one track pony; straddling the Mavericks style Mexicana with Buddy Holly and Roy Orbison ballads like the sweet Prairie Serenade and the mournful A Letter to You, where Paul Young really comes into his own.
Other less well known; (unless you are in my inner circle) bands spring to mind too; I couldn’t help thinking of the Waco Brothers on the doleful and self-depreciating Battered and Boozed; and later it was the long lost Balham Alligators with the beautiful Caballero, Our Favourite Things and even more so with Texas Adios.
If you are a Los Pacaminos fan reading this and you haven’t heard of those two bands; I urge you do so immediately.
Two songs in particular caught my attention; but for completely different reasons. Palabras is a rather lovely song sung in Spanish; featuring some exquisite guitar picking; but the tune….hmmm…..of course! They have reinvented The Bee Gees Words as a Mariachi tune. Sheer Genius!
The other is The Girl From Tennessee; a rather jaunty and fun, accordion led song; that owes a bit of a debt to Slaid Cleaves, and Texas Love Song. Don’t get me wrong; I love both songs equally, but what are the odds of two songs rhyming Texas with Solar Plexus?
For once I can’t pick a winner here; but solely because all 17 tracks melt seamlessly into each other and I can’t wait for Summer to arrive so I can play this long into the night; much to the pleasure of my understanding neighbours.

Released May 6th 2016

http://www.lospacaminos.com/

Los Pacaminos (Featuring Paul Young) – The Early Years

los pacaminos 3

Los Pacaminos (Featuring Paul Young)
The Early Years
Recado Records

Authentic and Lovingly Crafted Tex-Mex from the Heart of London Town.

I’ve been a fan of Paul Young (Wherever I Lay My Hat etc.) from his days in the Q Tips; one of the finest Soul/R&B Revues I’ve ever seen; and their version of SYLJFM is still in my Top 10 of all time; so it pains me to say a) I’ve never seen his latest incarnation – Los Pacaminos play live; and b) I actually had no idea they had released three albums and a couple of EP’s!
Thankfully with this sparkly new disc (there’s a second waiting for review soon, too) I’m finally putting b) right; but sadly; like cheap French wine; the band don’t travel very well, so I guess I won’t see them play live any time soon 😦
So; to the music……
The opening track My, My, My starts with a glorious accordion break from Matty Irving; and it’s not too far away from the Pogues ‘Fiesta;’ and the song itself sets the tone for a frivolous but exceptionally well executed hour or so of ‘Border Music;’ taking in styles as diverse as Ry Cooder through to Buddy Holly, Doug Sahm and even Hollywood Elvis.
Second track Manana; slows things down with a delightful Rumba beat; as Paul Young does his finest ‘Aloha’ Elvis impression; or at least so it sounds to me….and I love it.
As I understand it, all of the songs on the original album are self-penned; but any or all could easily come from the back catalogue of the Sir Douglas Quintet, The Mavericks or even the lighter/fun side of Tom Russell. Early on Perdita is guaranteed to get even me, with my two left feet on the dance-floor; as will the glorious Raised on Margaritas and I would love to direct a video for the waltz-time ballad, Poor Boys.
The Ry Cooder influence oozes out of every note on the instrumental Terra D’Ensuenos and fans of the Mavericks would crawl over flaming coal to hear that band sing No Seas Tonto Mujer; which is sung in a very authentic sounding Spanish by the All English Band.
There’s not a bad song among the 15 tracks on offer; and me and Mrs. Magpie ended up having harsh words over which is the best song here; both songs come from the Rare EP’s; with me loving their reconstruction of You’d Better Move On; which sounds nothing at all like the Rolling Stones version that I grew up listening too; and is all the better for it; and Mrs. Magpie has plumped for Hey Baby Que Paso; which I have a copy by the legendary Texas Tornados; who were probably another huge influence on the fledgling Los Pacaminos.
I first played this album on one of the first sunny days of Spring; and now two weeks later I’ve decided it would be like a little ray of South x South Western sunshine on the wettest of British Summer days.

http://www.lospacaminos.com/

Released April 22nd 2016

Carrie Rodriguez and The Sacred Hearts – LOLA

lola

Carrie Rodriguez and The Sacred Hearts
LOLA
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.

http://www.carrierodriguez.com/

Released February 19th 2016