Austin’s Patricia Vonne returns with her second album, Guitars and Castanets, 41 minutes of music culled from her roots. The collection is filled with Texas rockers and Mexican folklorico ballads, three of which are sung in Spanish, including the translated title track, which was co-written by her brother, director Robert Rodriguez. The connection to Robert doesn’t stop there. The album has a bonus track and accompanying video for the song, “Traeme Paz,” from Robert’s film, Once Upon a Time in Mexico.
The liner notes include Vonne’s inspirations for the songs, most of which are co-written by her husband, Richard La Roche, who plays guitar and sings background. The songs are filled with Western imagery of gypsy cowboys, dusty roads and blood red boots, bringing alive her border stories of desire.
Vonne gives a tip o’ the hat to a number of her musical influences. Country western outlaw Joe Ely inspires “Joe’s Gone Ridin’”. The title track is dedicated to San Antonio’s Alejandro Escovedo. Vonne’s first live show was Johnny Reno and the Sax Maniacs, so it’s fitting that she recruited Reno to play dirty saxophone on “Sax Maniac,” a rollickin’ jump-blues number that swings hard and gets the blood pumping.
Guitars and Castanets is a good soundtrack for driving down Southwestern desert two-lane highways with your windows down as the wind blows hot, matching the passion of the lovers in her songs. The album does a great job of being evocative of the region while remaining accessible. Sound clips from it can be heard at Vonne’s website. She leaves for a five-week European tour at the end of July.