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Tara Linda

Tortilla Western Serenade

(Physalia Records; US: 23 May 2010; UK: Import)

Head south of the border

Oakland’s Tara Linda creates a kind of Tex-Mex-rock gumbo, her songs built around guitar rhythms both swaggering and delicate, while crystalline trumpet and accordion flourishes add flair. On Tortilla Western Serenade, her second album, Linda is smart enough to use all these elements as seasoning. Taking center stage is her voice, a warm, husky instrument that effortlessly spills tales of departed soldiers and unreliable lovers, wives on the run and missionaries long dead. All of it is peppered with references to tumbleweeds and cactus, arroyos and Gila monsters. Guest turns by Flaco Jimenez on accordion are a bonus.


Linda’s voice is worthy of the spotlight. By turns defiant, coy, vulnerable and sassy, she manages to express an impressive range of emotion. Somehow she manages to make the line “You make me want to put my boots on” simultaneously tender and dirty as hell. Time to head south, kids.

Rating:

DAVID MAINE is a novelist and essayist. His books include The Preservationist (2004), Fallen (2005), The Book of Samson (2006), Monster, 1959 (2008) and An Age of Madness (2012). He has contributed to The Washington Post, Publishers Weekly, Esquire.com and NPR.com, among other outlets. He is a lifelong music obsessive whose interests range from rock to folk to hip-hop to international to blues. He currently lives in western Massachusetts, where he works in human services. Catch up with his blog, The Party Never Stops, at davidmaine.blogspot.com, or become his buddy on Facebook (or Twitter or Google+ or whatever you prefer) to keep up with reviews and other developments.


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