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Carrie Rodriguez & The Sacred HeartsCarrie Rodriguez & The Sacred Hearts
Album: {Lola}
Label: Luz
Tracks: 12

One of my favourite Texan singer-songwriters, and a darned fine fiddler to boot, Carrie has always delighted in the potential of cross-pollination of diverse musical traditions that her native state enjoys. Carrie's demonstrated this interest in a series of fine solo records, as well as on four acclaimed duet albums with Chip Taylor early on in her career. But all the time, Carrie's harboured a lifelong dream to create her own blend of Tex-Mex music, inspired from way back when she first heard Eva Garza, a San Antonio-born Chicana singing sensation from the 1940s; Eva just happened to be Carrie's great-aunt, and Carrie was struck by the deep connection she experienced hearing her singing.

So, engaging the principle of crowdfunding, Carrie gathered together a special one-off band, The Sacred Hearts, comprising Bill Frisell (guitars), Viktor Krauss (bass), Luke Jacobs (pedal steel, additional vocals), David Pulkingham (nylon-strung and electric guitars) and Brannen Temple (percussion), to help her make this dream come true. And what a fabulous team they make, the absolute perfect foil for Carrie's very special musical personality and creativity. The album features a typically sparky mix of material: several songs by Carrie herself (Ranchera-inspired originals written in English, Spanish and "Spanglish"), and Spanish songs by some of Carrie's favourite Mexican composers. The unique flavour of the whole project, imparted by Carrie herself, is its intensely tangible, overwhelmingly affectionate quality that seems to come straight from Carrie's own bond with the musical melting-pot that is Texas, a connection straight from the heart and from the soul of Eva Garza herself that's transmitted through her authentic singing, and the expertise of both Frisell and album producer Lee Townsend, who make the timeless musical gestures both relevant and contemporary. Carrie brings a deep-twang thoughtfulness to her covers of Noche Be Ronda (by Maria Teresa Lara) and the standard Perfidia, while her sensuous treatment of Rebolledo's Frío En El Alma gives a new dimension to the concept of sultry and sassy; her takes on the pair of Cuco Sanchez numbers Que Manera De Perder and Si No Te Vas are surely unrivalled (what a voice!). Carrie's original compositions are cast in the same mould and inhabit the true spirit of the Texas landscape, from the late-night barroom shuffle of Caricias to the catchy pop of Z, the reflective portrait of The West Side and the wistful, delicate evocation of Mexican singer Maria Lucila Beltrán Ruiz (I Dreamed I Was Lola Beltrán) to the slinky aura of La Última Vez. In maintaining her natural focus throughout, Carrie takes us on a wonderfully atmospheric journey that's over way too soon. It's a winner on every count - lovingly conceived and performed, with all the soul and spirit of true Tex-mex.

David Kidman