Album Reviews

Tish Hinojosa – Heart Wide Open

(Measured) UK release date: 1 August 2005

The Bush family have given Texas a bad name. Warmongering, electric chair loving, illiterate Christian Fundamentalists with an emphasis on �mental’. It is not the sort of tag musicians want hanging around their necks like an oil coated rack of hickory ribs. You could see the colour draining from the faces of bands the world over when they learned that they featured on George Dubya’s iPod. So thank Houston for the Tish Hinojosa’s of the Southern States. This puts sensitivity back under the Stetson.

What could be further removed from gung-ho bravado than an acoustic love song alternating verses in English and Spanish?Never say never love again digs deep into the Tex Mex poetry like a musical burrito full of passionate exultations . And matters of the ‘corazon’ dominate through out.

To say that Tish is a lady who is emotionally open would be something of an understatement. This is coffee table, singer songwriter stuff, but with blood dripping onto the carpet. Her still beating heart is wrenched into the spotlight, where it remains for all 15 tracks.

This is not to say that this is toe curling, nauseas fare. With almost as many players as she has tracks, the troubled romances are made to sound infinitely more vibrant than they feel. Bare knuckle acoustic and steel peddle guitars hum along with flurries of world beats and various bohemian sounding organs and accordions. At times it sounds like she’s backed by the entire WOMAD festival.

The thread of Spanish verse is mixed with bar-room tales, alternating talk of poets, painters and, erm , papa. You can almost see her skipping over the border to dance salsa in the barrios before returning to do a country set at a local burger bar

For instance, legs are slapped Dixie style on Shotgun Ridin’ where we “feel the rhythm of the back road, wind blown, monotone flat stone”. By rights it should be a chase scene song for a Smokey And The Bandit remake . And then before we have time to spit tobacco the melodies become all lusty and art house with bubble gum harmonies on Something More Than This. Imagine The Velvet Underground playing at the Alamo and you might just about pin her down. Although not quite.

You’d have to go as far as a bootleg stall in a Mexican market to find Latin pop as authentic as Derechos De El Corazon. It seems that Tish Hinojasa is constantly changing the station on both the stereotypical Texan and singer song writer image or at least, she is a pick n mix of differing tunesmiths. Take each track alone and it is accomplished but unremarkable. It’s when it’s put together that it becomes truly interesting

So set your iPod to ‘shuffle’. You never know what you’ll find filed under Texas when you dive through the bushes

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