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Carrie Rodriguez + The Sacred Hearts - Lola (Review)

Carrie Rodriguez, Lola

Review by Jack Foley

IndieLondon Rating: 4 out of 5

TEXAN singer-songwriter Carrie Rodriguez has delivered something of a passion project with her latest album, Lola, which offers a fascinating mix of new and old songs sung in Spanish and English.

Inspired by the 1940s-era recordings of Carrie’s great aunt, Chicana sensation Eva Garza, the album features Spanish songs written by some of Carrie’s favourite Mexican composers, as well as her own Ranchera-inspired original songs written in Spanish, English and ‘Spanglish’.

Produced by Lee Townsend, the album is further supported by all-star band The Sacred Hearts, who were assembled especially for this project. Hence, performers range from internationally acclaimed composer/guitarist Bill Frisell, Viktor Krauss on bass, Luke Jacobs on pedal steel and guitars, David Pulkingham on nylon string guitar and electric guitar and Brannen Temple on drums and percussion.

And that’s not forgetting Rodriguez’s own violin playing!

The resulting album, which has been entirely crowd-funded by friends and fans, is never less than absorbing, sometimes rousing and often quite beautiful.

The rousing elements come in the form of the English sung Z, which offers a foot-stomping country and western-style romp, complete with sing-along lyrics that proclaim: “Not everyone’s gonna spell your name right honey.” The mix of guitars and violin is seamless and makes for a robust sound that gives the LP a welcome shot in the arm when it arrives.

But it’s neatly offset by jaw-droppingly beautiful moments such as the tender ballad The West Side, which strips things right down to simple acoustic plucks, subtle electronic elements and honey-due vocals that deliver sultry/sarcastic lines like “wouldn’t you like to grow up here, we’ve got big old houses coming out of our ears…” It’s a subversive listen in the way that it juxtaposes the beauty inherent in the melodies with more startling lines such as: “You are welcome here, but remember dear you are different in every way”.

Of note, too, are the album closers Si No Te Vas, which arrives in two forms. The first is an instrumental, which just washes over you in sublime fashion – the guitars, violins and moody drums working so well together in creating a soothing listen.

It’s augmented still further by the sung version that completes the album and leaves you on another high.

If, elsewhere, certain moments on the album feel lazy by comparison to the absolute highlights, by virtue of the way in which they adhere to a more country and Western or Americana vibe, then they still pass by in a kind of effortless fashion (with Noche De Ronda and Que Manera De Perder being two examples.

But there are still plenty more moments to savour, whether in the slow-build layering of La Ultima Vez (which features another blistering vocal performance), or the violin-led cinema of Frio En El Alma (which almost assumes a waltz-like air at times).

All in all, this is a labour of love that bears some terrific fruit.

Download picks: La Ultima Vez, Z, Si No Te Vas, The West Side, Frio En El Alma

Track listing:

  1. Perfidia
  2. Llano Estacado
  3. I Dreamed I Was Lola Beltran
  4. La Ultima Vez
  5. Que Manera de Perder
  6. Frio en el Alma
  7. Z
  8. Noche de Ronda
  9. Caricias
  10. The West Side
  11. Si No Te Vas (Instrumental)
  12. Si No Te Vas