Manuel Cowboy Donley & His Trio Romantic-o
'The Brown Recluse Sessions'
Reviewed by Raoul Hernandez, Fri., July 13, 2012
Manuel Cowboy Donley & His Trio Romantic-oThe Brown Recluse Sessions (Mini Records)
All-star Latino collective Los Super Seven could've used Manuel "Cowboy" Donley. On three LPs, 1998-2005, local estrellas Ruben Ramos, Rick Treviño, and even the late Freddy Fender teamed with Los Lobos, Caetano Veloso, and Susana Baca in the world music wake of Cuba's Buena Vista Social Club. East Austin octogenarian Donley summons that already sepia-toned moment on BVSC staple "Me Voy Pa'l Pueblo," embedded in this swoon of high-romance boleros. Recorded and engineered by El Brown Recluse himself, sonic curandero and Charanga Cakewalker Michael Ramos at his Brown Recluse Studios, Donley's own Brown Recluse Sessions plucks, strums, and croons a dozen Spanish-language interludes, timelessly curated but contemporarily moving in that any disc by Donley this late in his half-century on-again/off-again career stirs wonder and warmth. Wordlessly playful harmonies behind the choppy strut of "Maria Isabel" as followed by the disarming bow, scrape, and sway of Spanish standard "Perfidia" won't be equaled locally anytime soon.