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Music Review - `Matamoros` by James Kahn (ea)

James Kahn - Matomoros  (click on image to watch video)

 28 March 2020



Remember when Steve Earle and The Pogues collaborated on Steve’s epochal 1988 album, “Copperhead Road?” James Kahn sure seems to. He has taken that gritty Country Rock-meets-Celtic Punk sound and added some intriguing flourishes on his latest album, “Matamoros.”

The album serves as a companion piece to his novel of the same name. A Civil War saga that takes place below the Rio Grande, it’s filled with smugglers, soldiers, good-time gals, reprobates and rogues. The sprawling title-track sets the scene, powered by piquant mandolin and sawing fiddles. The lyrics chart a course, as the novel’s protagonist winds his way from Memphis to Mexico.

Over a 14 song set, the listener is introduced to a French Foreign Legionnaire on the jaunty “Scully’s Lament” a seafaring buccaneer on the rollicking “Solomon’s Shanty” and El Guerrero Quintero,” a covert Cuban confederate who’s tale is anchored by peppery Mariachi horns.

The best tracks here range from the fanciful “Rio Allie” which blends cascading mandolin and barbed-wire banjo fills, the courtly and propulsive “Mighty Fine Texas Rangers” and the poignant “Mildred’s Waltz.” He even touches on the legend of “La Llorona.” Other interesting songs include the piano-driven “Gypsy Moth” and the bluesy twang of “Harley’s Lament.”

James Kahn has created an insular world richly detailed and deftly executed. The characters of “Matamoros” come alive through this melodious Celtic-Country convergence.

Music Reviewer - Eleni P. AustinEleni P. Austin - I was born into a large, loud Greek family and spent my formative years in the Los Angeles enclaves of Laurel Canyon and Los Feliz. My mother moved us to the Palm Springs area just in time for puberty and Disco.  I have spent over 40 years working in record stores, starting back in High School.

I wrote music reviews for the Desert Sun from 1983 to 1988. I began doing the same for the Coachella Valley Weekly in 2012.

I live in Palm Springs with my wife and our amazing dog, Denver. 

To Read All of Eleni P.'s Reviews, Click Here




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