Carried to Dust (Quarterstick)
Reviewed by Doug Freeman, Fri., Oct. 24, 2008
CalexicoCarried to Dust (Quarterstick)
For 10 years now, Calexico has branded its dusky, Southwestern balladry with mariachi horns and rhythms, weaving an intensely intricate array of styles into a familiar whole. The Tucson, Ariz., troupe's sixth proper LP ranks among its best, setting itself in line with 2003's exceptional Feast of Wire. Joey Burns' vocals remain hushed and subtly mesmerizing throughout, whispering with the calm force of Jim White on "Bend to the Road" and carrying a touch of Dire Straits in "Writer's Minor Holiday." Collaborations provide the album's backbone, especially Jairo Zavala's rugged Spanish verse on opening ode "Victor Jara's Hands" and Pieta Brown's delicate country duet "Slowness." Iron & Wine's Sam Beam returns to back the lilting flamenco of "House of Valparaiso." Carried to Dust feels like a precise parsing of Calexico's best elements, a lingering, understated beauty. (Calexico dusts up Antone's, Friday, Nov. 7.)
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