Album Reviews

Patricia Vonne – Guitars & Castanets

(Measured) UK release date: 29 August 2005

Riding the musical border between Texas and Mexico, this second outing from film-maker Robert Rodriguez’ talented sister is a dustbowl of country rock, rhythm and blues and Latin rhythms, just as the title suggests. In fact the title track is actually called Guitarras y Castanuelas, one of four songs in Spanish on the album.

Having supplied music to Once Upon A Time In Mexico, and played roles in Sin City, Spy Kids and Desperado, Vonne seems to be getting ready to step out from behind her brother’s shadow and carve out a name of her own. So how does she get on?

It’s no real surprise that virtually all of these songs (give or take Sax Maniac) would be to Antonio Banderas and novelty firearms as lime is to tequila. Joe’s Gone Ridin’ and Texas Burning are both straight-up country belters, but with an air of desert mystery, solitude and menace present throughout. Rebel Bride is just asking for one of Tarantino’s many prot�g�s to use it in their soundtracks, preferably during the inevitable scene where the mysterious and dangerous femme fatale walks into the dusty desert bar in slow motion.

Once the dusty mystique has worn off, however, it’s hard not to feel that the songs in English don’t really do anything that Sheryl Crow hasn’t been doing for years. Once Vonne changes tongues and starts singing in Spanish, the music moves with her and her voice moves from headstrong cowgirl to something a hell of a lot more sultry, dangerous and sexy.

Fiesta Sangria and La Gitana De Triana are still straightforward enough songs, but they are steeped in Latin fire, and musically seem to quiver on that fine musical tightrope between celebration and tragedy that is so well expressed in Spanish guitar music.

It makes you wonder what the point of the English numbers is, to be honest. Maybe, on a commercial level, Vonne might have struggled to market an album entirely in Spanish to the Brits and the Americans – after this, though, that’s exactly what they will want next. There’s two videos on the CD, and one is for Traeme Paz, which featured on the soundtrack to Rodriguez’s Once Upon a Time in Mexico – so that adds one more Spanish tune to the list.

It’s a good album with only one real filler tune – the completely unnecessary Sax Maniac – but there’s potential for much more. For now, though, this is well worth checking out.

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