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Los Cenzontles with David Hidalgo

Songs of Wood & Steel

(Los Cenzontles Mexican Arts Center; US: 1 Oct 2008; UK: Available as import)

The idea of mingling Mexican roots music with US rock and blues is an interesting one, but its execution here does the opposite of what it’s supposed to. Instead of unifying them, Songs of Wood & Steel acts as an argument for their separation. The trot of the Mexican music and the hard, downwards strum of the rock guitar don’t seem to belong together. We get the impression that they exist in separate musical universes, one direct and grindy, the other delicate and rambunctious. The calliope jink of “El Chubasco” is worlds away from the swing of “Red River Road, Part One”, and when they try to come together in “Howling Moon” they seem to be slightly out of synch. This album is a worthy experiment that needs more work.

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