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Phases and Stages

SXSW records

Reviewed by Jim Caligiuri, March 7, 2003, Music

Patricia Vonne

(Bandolera) Originally from San Antonio, Patricia Vonne spent time in New York City before moving to Austin in early 2001. While in NYC, she honed her craft as a singer-songwriter, putting together a band and generating a local buzz. With that came some label attention, but she ran into the same old "we like you, but we wouldn't know how to market you" line. On Vonne's self-titled debut, it's easy to hear where the confusion came from. It's a mishmash of styles, some reflecting her Mexican heritage, others from her Texan roots, none done with enough substance to withstand repeat listening. For sure, some of Vonne's music is performed with a measured amount of energy and passion. Most of the time, however, Vonne's band, a couple from Texas, the rest from New York, sounds like it's going through the motions, her melodies and lyrics sounding equally mundane. This gives her rootsy side a stiffness that draws her closer to the forced frivolousness of Heart, where you can tell she's reaching for the grit and soul of someone like Joe Ely. The simmering Spanish ballad "Soledad" is a standout, its shifting textures playing nicely against her warbling vocals. But such moments are few, and a simple glance at the song titles -- "Shine a Light," "Devotion," and "Can You Hear Me," all of which are pretty much standard issue -- gives a clue at the lack of originality in Vonne's work. (Continental Club, Saturday, midnight)


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