Calexico has long crisscrossed the border between American (blues, country, rock and roll) and Latin-American sounds, but the band’s latest is a borderless exploration of shimmering, luminous music. Vocalist/guitarist/accordionist Joey Burns and drummer John Convertino are at the heart of the band, working more than 20 years now with an array of fellow players; this 10th studio album was recorded at longtime bandmate Sergio Mendoza’s home studio in Tucson.
The music here is a noirish pastiche, like stepping into a midnight dance hall along the Tex-Mex borderline. Calexico moves between son Cubano, Latin American cumbias, rancheras, and corridos into perhaps more-recognized terrain – though its blues and rock echoes sound mysterious and fresh. Throughout, Burns’ acoustic, nylon, and electric guitars accent the music, along with Spanish rock guitarist Jairo Zavala, who brings his signature bravado to “Cumbia Peninsula.”
The opening/title track features sultry vocals from Guatemalan singer/songwriter/guitarist Gaby Moreno backed by strings, trumpets, an array of percussion, and electric guitar, banjo, and lap steel thanks to Italian slinger Alessandro “Asso” Stefana. El Mirador is that rare masterpiece that provides a step back in time and space.
This article originally appeared in VG’s June 2022 issue. All copyrights are by the author and Vintage Guitar magazine. Unauthorized replication or use is strictly prohibited.