This new album by roots-rock band, Cordovas, is the total package, the real deal; it comes busting out the gate wide-eyed and bushy-tailed, ready to take on the world like a glittering rattlesnake.
Come to think of it, “wide-eyed” is probably not the most accurate descriptor for what this album sounds like. If it was possible for music to be half-drunk, sweating profusely beneath a wide-brimmed hat, dragging on an enormous spliff while kicking its cowboy boots in the dust – then this would be that type of music. Good time, hot summer night rock ‘n’ roll just like Mama used to make. Mama being Jerry Garcia or Gregg Allman or Gram Parsons. Or maybe all three. Let’s not get into the details, man. Pass that doobie.
In all seriousness, across this luxurious, exquisitely produced album, you hear all of the things you’re imagining in your head and then some. For one thing, it seems like there’s about thirteen people singing on it. At least. As it turns out, everybody in The Band sings – and they all have mighty fine voices. You know the interplay of unique voices on records like American Beauty, Sweetheart of the Rodeo and Music from Big Pink? Cordovas have got it down. Each and every Cordova sounds like they should be the ‘lead’ vocalist, whatever that means. They’re basically all great.
A few words on the incredible production and mix: Tthe piano gleams and thrusts lustily in the right channel of pretty much every song. There’s a stinging rhythm guitar in the left. The meaty, corn-fed bass struts right there between your left and right eyebrow. And the drums! Shit, partner. Then you’ve got those voices riding above it all, bouncing off the inside of your dome like it was an old church down in New Mexico.
There’s no point singling particular songs out for praise, because they are all superb. Maybe the country honky-tonk of “Standin’ on the Porch” is the sexiest thing here. Then, maybe it’s the honey-ed grooves of “Frozen Rose”, which sounds like The Grateful Dead covering The Band in heaven. Or maybe the Band covering the Dead. A sure-fire album highlight is “Santa Fe”, which was probably communicated to Cordovas by the ghost of Gram Parsons. Or something like that.
There’s also plenty of vitality and rhythmic complexity, enough versatility and diversity here to suggest that they’d be just as incredible live, too. But unfortunately, they recently completed a run of U.K. dates, which means most of us missed them this time around. Let’s not make that mistake again.