Carrie Rodriguez - Lola

Luz Records LR00

For many music fans in the UK, Carrie Rodriguez is renowned as the fiddle player and duet partner of Chip Taylor. She joined forces with veteran songwriter Taylor back in 2001 and the pair spent the next seven years touring and recording together. Since then she has pursued a widely acclaimed solo career, and as with other artists who forge out on their own after supporting roles, Carrie’s solo work showcases the strengths of her previous work, but has gradually boasted a full-throated, exuberant musical voice like none we’ve ever heard before. This collection of songs, inspired partly by her great aunt, 1940s Chicano singing sensation Eva Garza and in honour of Lola Beltran, regarded in Mexico as their most popular ranchera-style singer, marks an important sea change for Carrie Rodriguez, and speaks of her growing ability to take risks and follow her own muse.

A gifted multi-instrumentalist, the Texan songstress emphasises her evocative songwriting as strongly as she does her instrumental and vocal technique. She is accompanied by a studio band tagged the Sacred Hearts. Comprising Bill Frisell (guitar), Viktor Krauss (bass), Luke Jacobs (pedal steel, guitars), David Pulkingham (nylon string guitar, electric guitar) and Brannen Temple (drums, percussion); these first rate musicians combine to produce the special moments that are difficult to define but easy to experience, along with special guest vocalists Raul Malo and Gina Chavez and Grammy Award-winning bajo sexto player Max Baca.
Subtlety is the magic ingredient—from her gossamer voice to the delicate re-working of traditional and contemporary material. Stylistically, the project references the traditional influences that have informed Carrie’s artistic identity: the beautiful bones of her music. Tracks are not intended to be detailed, exact replications of those traditional forms, but respectful references with a finish of her own identity and contemporary approach.

The bilingual album presents a collection of ranchera-inspired originals by Rodriguez in English, Spanish and ‘Spanglish,’ coupled with Spanish songs written by some of her favourite Mexican composers. She sets the mood with a delicate reworking of Perfidia, with Raul Malo providing the distinctive harmony vocal. Z, a co-write with fellow Texan Susan Gibson (Dixie Chicks’ Wide Open Spaces), comes at you straight from the shoulder, letting the listener feel the full impact of her sheer delivery ... raw and gritty with moments of crystalline beauty, as she looks back at her life growing up with a singing father and artist mother and trying to fit into the genre boxes that the music business thrives on. The new songs are among Carrie’s more personal as well as her most eloquently alluring. Tracks such as the gentle Caricias, the bright, mid-tempo Llano Estacado and the sensitive I Dreamed I Was Lola Beltran, capture her ethereal vocals and the dreamy vibe that permeates her work. Que Manera De Perder and Noche De Ronda hit both notes and emotional buttons in her delivery, her intense and impassioned voice overcoming any lack of understanding the Spanish lyrics.

The songs combine to deliver a natural, atmospheric, live-in-the-studio mood that makes it seem that the listener is eavesdropping on the recording of music that is personal and emotionally stirring. A perfectly ripened delicacy that signals a lyrical comprehension that reaches far beyond Carrie’s years, and musical compositions that are both brave and progressive. An album that promises to expand Carrie Rodriguez’s burgeoning career as one of the most creative, exciting and diverse artists making music today.