Review: Lovely melding of cultures on Rodriguez' 'Lola'

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Posted: Feb 18, 2016 4:17 PM
Review: Lovely melding of cultures on Rodriguez' 'Lola'

Carrie Rodriguez and the Sacred Hearts, "Lola " (Thirty Tigers/Luz)

On "Lola," singer Carrie Rodriguez alternates between English and Spanish, sometimes switching in midsentence as she creates a distinctive musical language.

The melding of cultures can be a beautiful thing, especially when orchestrated by such a talented cast. The Sacred Hearts includes bassist Viktor Krauss and the ubiquitous guitarist Bill Frisell putting their special stamp on the material.

And then there's Rodriguez, a versatile singer who does her best work yet here. The Austin, Texas native cites her great aunt, 1940s Chicana singer Eva Garza, as an inspiration for the album, and it's clearly a labor of love.

Rodriguez mixes ranchera-style songs she co-wrote and familiar tunes by Mexican composers. She sings with the passion of a telenovela actress on "Si No Te Vas," and applies feminist roadhouse sass to the autobiographical "Z." There are fine duets with Raul Malo and Luke Jacobs, and on "The West Side," Rodriguez slyly addresses the topic of bigotry by using a childlike melody.

While the word immigration is never uttered, in English or Spanish, "Lola" makes a case both forceful and tuneful for diversity.