Carrie Rodriguez, Havilah Tower, Leticia Rodriguez Garza, and Giulia Millanta
Live at the Cactus, Behind the Curtain, Saguita al Bate, and The Funambulist
Reviewed by Nina Hernandez, Fri., Sept. 19, 2014
Fiddle howling like a freight train whistle, Carrie Rodriguez again proves she can stitch together a disc with equal portions hip folk-rock and well-timed pockets of country nostalgia. Live at the Cactus, her 10th release, runs the gamut from the sultry "Devil in Mind" to Spanish strummer "La Punalada Trapera." Consider it a stopgap as the local Latina currently takes a breather from writing to produce a debut for Luke Jacobs, her onstage counterpart. Rain sound effects at the start of "The Truth Is" belie the relentlessly somber tone of Havilah Tower's second effort, Behind the Curtain. The Austin singer wrote all 12 tracks, but failed to communicate any original themes, playing it straight on country ballad "Where Rainbow Meets Road," and stating the obvious on "Dangerous." Leticia Rodriguez Garza released Sagüita al Bate last month, a single accompanied by three songs from her 2012 LP. In the title track, the singer reanimates the music of her late aunt, nearly forgotten Fifties crooner Eva Garza. Taking the mambo apart and repurposing it into a dynamic cumbia bursting with accordion, the niece simultaneously pays tribute and breaks her own ground. Giulia Millanta dropped The Funambulist this spring, explaining the title this way: "There was a common thread in collecting songs for this record, which is this idea of being suspended and in-between" (revisit Earache! post "The Funambulist: Giulia Millanta," April 23). Belting in English, French, and Italian, the Austin performer moves swiftly between the crisp notes of "Ma Voix" and staccato "Il Grande Fratello" with admirable grace, closing atop "The Funambulist," a melancholy poem about a tightrope walker with a fear of heights.