You can’t help but have a good feeling about an album which is accompanied by a note that says “Note from the artist: For the most part the album rocks and needs to be played very loudly”. Boris McCutcheon’s new album, As Old As Española, is released on April 24th and it works very well when played loudly; it’s also pretty good played at a steadier volume.
McCutcheon recorded his first album in 2001, has had his music played on TV shows such as Breaking Bad, was part of the Hoth Brothers’ Workin And Dreamin album that got a lot of attention last year and, international virus and international travel willing, is set to tour the UK later in 2020.
The album works on several levels – first off, it’s just great music to listen to (or play loudly). Try the title track ‘As Old As Española’ in the video below. It bounces along, rock/country-rock style, it’s the kind of song I’d like to be driving in the sun with my arm hanging out the window and the music playing loud. And then I read about Española – possibly the first capital city in the United States, a town with Spanish and Mexican influences, maybe the place where the lowrider was first created (i.e. not LA) and you pick up on some of the lyrics “They think they’re better /cos they’ve got an opera/ They don’t have a soul as old as Española” and similar lyrics of sassiness about the town and culture.
McCutcheon captures different aspects of his country-rock style in several tracks: in ‘Dust Devilish’ – a song about a dog who got sucked into a dust devil; in ‘Where Have All The Lowriders Gone’; in an Espanola-ised version of the Velvet Underground’s ‘I’m Waiting For My Man’; in ‘Devil Dave’ about the late David Bindler, a drummer with whom McCutcheon started a band in the late 90’s and with whom “life was never dull”; and in the concluding and exuberant ‘Trees Of Life’.
But there’s rather more to this album: there’s a jazzy swing to ‘Feels Good To Go To Work’; an almost bebop feel to ‘Angelina’s Farm’; something haunting about the mystically inspired ‘La Llorona And The Lowriders’; and a quietness to ‘I Held Your Hand’ (which has some lovely pedal steel guitar) and to ‘Snowy Mountains’, apparently McCutcheon’s favourite track on the album.
On top of some rather striking music, there’s a sense of place. This is an album which brings a sense of Espanola and the wider New Mexico area as you listen to it – from, say, the town itself and the lowriders to the fires around Jemez, or from, say, the dust devil to New Mexican snowy mountains. McCutcheon and his family have been based in New Mexico for a while, planting and farming and clearly as he’s become part of New Mexico, then the area and its history have simultaneously become embedded in his music. It all makes for a rather good combination on his album, As Old As Española.
Artist’s website: http://www.borismccutcheon.com
‘As Old As Española’:
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