The phrase ‘culturally blended music for the culturally blended world’ is brandished on the inside cover of the CD booklet and in a nutshell does the reviewer’s job. However now we’ve started proceedings let’s elaborate on a record glistening in both its inner and outer beauty enabling Carrie Rodriguez to fulfil a lifelong passion. If LOLA is a vanity project, it opens its heart for us all to share as Carrie and her team of highly accomplished players present a record perfectly formed to be a soundtrack for those lazy relaxed warm summer evenings. Embracing both her Texan and Mexican roots as long been an influence for Carrie, but this leap forward with a bi-lingual album represents her at her vocally best in conjunction with the acclaimed writing and fiddle playing talent.
Venture down to the southern parts of Texas and Tex-Mex music is an integral part of the Americana culture. Carrie has been a long time listener of Mexican music, inspired by her family background, and the record’s title is partially borrowed from the iconic singer Lola Beltran. It doesn’t take long to recognise her influence on Carrie especially when you reach Track 3 and ‘I Dreamed I was Lola Beltran’. This was one of the half a dozen songs on the album where Carrie had a writing input, thus complying with the intended strategy of mixing originals with some of her favourite Mexican songs. Possibly some understanding of Spanish may enhance the enjoyment of this album, but absolutely none is fine for admiring its marvellous pot of embracing sounds, luscious vocals and heart filling warmth.
|Carrie and Luke on their last UK visit|
Officially the credit for this album goes to Carrie Rodriguez and the Sacred Hearts. Apart from the expected contribution of Luke Jacobs, two other players immediately stood out in the guitar parts played by Bill Frisell (a key architect on Lucinda Williams’ latest album) and David Pulkingham (long term guitarist and touring partner for Patty Griffin). Guest vocals on the opening track ‘Perfidia’ come courtesy of the unmistakeable Raul Malo. Carrie and Luke have got together to co-write a few songs along with the lap and pedal steel that he exclusively supplies. Another interesting Luke contribution is the additional English lyrics and vocals he provides for a 1950’s Mexican song titled ‘Que Manera De Perder’.
Among the twelve tracks, technically eleven tunes as ‘Si No Te Vas’ gets both a sung and instrumental version, are just three with entirely English titles. The tribute to Lola Beltran has already been mentioned, while a song simply titled ‘Z’ stands out as being the most conventional straightforward American recording, making a tongue in cheek stab at the wider music industry. This song could be singled out for radio airplay, but the real soul and substance to the album is when Carrie gracefully eases into the Spanish language to deliver songs with such evocative and atmospheric pleasure. ‘The West Side’ is the other solely English song and is a stripped down effort, thought provoking and reflective in its content.
LOLA has taken a modernistic route to market. Funded through crowd sourcing, recorded on the artist’s own label and subsequently taken on board by the multi-role organisation Thirty Tigers. There is little doubt Carrie’s pedigree will open doors with influential scribes, however glowing praise will be fully earned for pulling off a brave project with such elegance and panache. The lingering memory of this album is a perfect vision of sipping red wine in a late night cantina, eating fine food and a backdrop soundtrack to capture the moment. Full marks to Carrie Rodriguez for returning from a short break on top form and creating an idyllic piece of music to savour. We will give her a warm welcome back to the UK in November and look forward to the sharing of this latest project from an incredibly talented artist.
Carrie Rodriguez: Lola from Luke Jacobs on Vimeo.