Imagine sitting at an old, worn bar on a stool that has seen its fair share of patrons. The bar is dimly lit, not with purposeful style in mind, but because the point is to disappear rather than to socialize. Then, among the ragtag group of bodies sipping on their various brown liquors, an acoustic plucking sound begins to permeate from the corner.
Sounds like a scene from a Robert Rodriguez film right? There may be a reason for that, but I’ll get to that.
With a smoky swagger, instrumentally, an illuminating vocal presence, the latest release from Texas based Patricia Vonne constructs an experience that can only be defined as looking like a hole-in-the-wall, but plays out like a cinematic masterpiece.
The seventeen tracks of Viva Bandolera blends tradition with a driving sense of vision to develop a fascinating dance of Tejano, Spanish, and folk style. To put it plainly, it is a remarkably attractive venture into a seldom crafted style that is captivating from start to finish.
Little by little, each song builds into an elegant dance. The precision of structure in this album is like a world class flamenco. It sways, bends, and flows while maintaining an intimate connection without hesitation. Though it should be noted that cornering Viva Bandolera as simply a Spanish record would be an injustice. There is much more to the constructs here than influence-meets-result. From the dark and driving harmonies “Torera” to the western walk of “Fiesta Sangria” to the bluesy guitar solo swagger “Soledad” the variety of compositional aspects mold into a Latin surf-rock tightly bound by artistic pedigree and clear, unwavering passion for art. With a distant nod to the listener, Vonne caps the record off with “Mexicali De Chispa,” an instrumental track (with slight touch of vocal harmony), that is co-written by her brother.
And as the dust settles around the bar and those in attendance regain their breath after the performance of Viva Bandolera, the impact of what they just witnessed settles upon them. Give this record your full attention in one sitting and you will be as mesmerized as I.
Some may recognize opening track “Traeme Paz” from Once Upon A Time In Mexico, a film by Vonne’s brother Robert, but this song is just the opening credits to a superb record. Viva Bandolera is out now on Bandolera Records.
Greg is a co-founder and regular contributor of Nanobot Rock.