Escondido – The Ghost of Escondido

At my first glance of the album cover, I mistook Escondido’s debut album, The Ghost of Escondido, for a 1970′s vinyl record.  The white frame, conveniently placed track list and subdued tones of the retro album art left an impression like fine aged wine.  Sure enough, the record gives a welcomed sense of comfort and nostalgia.

Escondido, the Nashville-based alt country band, partners Mariachi trumpets and Wild West guitars with soft, sexy vocals that feel like a cross between Stevie Nicks and Gwen Stefani.  The album as a whole feels like a lonely road trip into the classic American West, turning into a relaxing yet thought-provoking journey of self discovery.

The album makes a strong start with “Evil Girls,” an eerie and beautiful song appropriate for a high noon showdown.  With femme fatale lyrics like, “Stay away from hazel eyes/she’ll kiss you ’til you’re dead/your heart will race/your head will sigh/it hasn’t hit you yet,” and red lips/guitar hips,” it makes for a sensuously addictive track.

Escondido then leaves the old West for a honkey tonk roadhouse in their next song, “Bad Without You.”  With blues chords and a warm guitar, the singer tells her lover all the bad things she does when he’s away: “I smoked a pack of cigarettes last night/it’s something I know you hate I do… I drank a bottle of whiskey, I feel all right/I started drinking just before two.”  The song ends when the drums stumble on an off beat but then adeptly catch on to the slowing tempo.

One of the later tracks, “Don’t Love Me Too Much,” lasts a mere two and half minutes, barely enough time to find a partner and start swinging on the dance floor.  The song opens with a honkey tonk guitar and seductive vocals, singing, ”Oh, Desperado/You love me too much/You’re going to leave me/When you’ve had enough.”  The quickly paced beat and cool guitar solo beg for several play-throughs.

“Keep Walkin’” is a bluesy, country rock song carried on a low riff that will get listeners swaying along.  The verses are simple: “I’m just walkin’/His eyes on me/Just keep walkin’/Ain’t much to see.”  But the prechorus builds up tension with heavier drums, synthesizers and fast vocals, singing, “Tall boys, short girls/long legs, soft curls/old men, young men/all the same way,” before erupting into the chorus where the female vocals cede audio space to a male voice that rocks speakers and headphones.

One of the final songs, but not to be overlooked, is “Black Roses.”  With a melancholy 3/4 beat, this song is appropriate for a slow, end of the night waltz before going home.  The country guitar joins the band in this song, but it is not overbearing.  In fact, it partners well with the acoustic strumming and beautiful vocals.

All in all, Escondido has released an impressive debut album that should appeal to music lovers within and without the country spectrum.  For a good listen, check out a live version of my personal favorite, “Evil Girls,” below:



For a more upbeat tune, check out “Bad Without You”:

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