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The Real Deal Music Review: Chris Arellano – Nuevo Americana

By Brian Rill

The new sound of Americana is a slow and robust tone with concise phrases that spin stories into spells, devised to bring rain into the dry Northern Plains. You can hear acoustic guitar strings reverberate along desert canyon walls as well as the sound of burning wood chips in a campfire. Long-strummed minor chords send out feelings of lonesomeness into the night. Words sung of promise display a longing to return home but with no idea of the path to get there. Soft songs with sweet memories are written down and then delivered to empty mail boxes that line old Nashville roads only to be forgotten again. Chris Arellano’s album Nuevo Americana contains all these ideas and more including the influence of Norteño music from his New Mexican upbringing. The conglomeration of all these styles is surprisingly mellow and moderately inspired by uptempo pop music.

“The sun is going to chase the moon the night is going to end too soon. I’ll wake up in this lonely room again because morning always wins.” The song Morning Always Wins discusses the obtuse feeling of displacement that one experiences when waking up alone, with the ghost of a lover. With a sound resembling Dire Straits, this tune drives along with a steady back beat. The songwriting is objective but optimistic, leading one to believe that maybe her ghost will one day return.

“She grew up in a southern town where the moss hung from the trees, she wore her sisters hand me downs just as pretty as you please, and her eyes reveal the distance of a girl just turned thirteen.” The biographical song Jenny Lee follows the life of a southern girl who returns to her town as a woman and tears down the house she grew up in, attempting to distract her from the demons of abuse she suffered there as a child. There are both an English and bilingual version of Sweet Lorraine, a tune that discovers how true love lost can be brought back in a song. “Sweet Lorraine, my sweet Lorraine she cleanses me just like a flood. Sweet Lorraine, my sweet Lorraine, Baby, I’m coming home.”

[InContentAdTwo] The overall collection of Spanish and English musical genres is quite eclectic but also mildly distracting. From slow country to Mexican polka and corrido – a romantic Spanish ballad, the many layers can excite and then sooth, although sometimes lingering on the feeling of getting out of a warm bath into a cold shower. Despite this somewhat confusing mix, the production quality and songwriting are top-notch as one would expect from a release on the Howlin’ Dog record label in Alamosa. Don Richmond produced this compact disk and also plays on many songs. Chris’s daughter Jayden and brother Rodney lend their musical talents to this familiar collaboration as well. If you enjoy Spanish Norteño and American country you will be in fifty shades of heaven as you listen to this prolonged twelve-track album.

Brian Rill is a teacher, performer, activist poet and award-winning Latin songwriter voted Salida’s best musician 2009.