Van Dyke Parks

REVIEW: Van Dyke Parks Orchestrates Veronica Valerio: Only In America Solo En America EP


Van Dyke Parks Orchestrates Veronica Valerio: Only In America Solo En America EP

Famous primarily for being a lyricist for some classic Beach Boys songs (“Heroes & Villains,” “Surf’s Up,” & part of “Sail On Sailor” among so many other songs), Van Dyke subsequently was signed to Warner Brothers & recorded some eccentric, idiosyncratic solo LPs with literate lyrics – one Calypso-oriented 1975 LP “Clang of the Yankee Reaper,” a favorite of mine — (not all written by Van Dyke Parks) was one of his more accessible & melodic.

Van Dyke has always been an exceptional musician & interesting personality. He worked with Brian Wilson, Harry Nilsson, Little Feat & Ry Cooder. With this effort, it’s obviously a labor of love & an experiment since it isn’t remotely commercial. Van Dyke Parks Orchestrates Veronica Valerio: Only In America Solo En America EP (BMG/Modern-Drops June 11) features only 4-tracks on this collaboration with Veracruz, Mexico musician Veronica Valerio (a singer, songwriter & harpist).

Recorded while in quarantine it’s a musical discovery album that will appeal to a limited audience. Songs are sung in Spanish with an old-world classic flavor to the melodies. If this music is appealing to your ears it will be a pleasure. Ms. Valerio’s voice is smooth & delicious. She’s steeped in the son jarocho musical style that blends Spanish with other influences.

“Veracruz,” is sprightly, while “Cieliuto Lindo,” starts with a compelling narration followed by a bass-heavy crisp snare drum rhythm decorated by a violin. Excellently arranged music. This is not bossa nova, it isn’t Astrud Gilberto or the late Selena. This is accentuated where necessary & nothing bombastic (as Van Dyke in the past has fallen victim). Fortunately, Parks always survives because he has taste & discipline.

There’s a largely Spanish-speaking audience in America so if the record company has sharp PR they will know where to market this effectively. To Spanish listeners, it may be a curiosity, but the music is attractive enough for those who don’t understand the language. The melodies are heavy & Ms. Valerio navigates them well.

The most upbeat is the final cut “Camino a Casa,” (Way Home) that is a lilting delicate melody sung with a voice that reminds me coincidently of the recently late Italian singer Milva. The violin is gutsy & Veronica’s vocal is at its most commercial lively.

The artwork for the 13-minute CD was created by Beatles’ cover-artist (“Revolver”) Klaus Voorman (bassist). The CD is available @ Amazon.

Photo of Veronica Valerio courtesy of Modern Recordings website/Photo of Van Dyke Parks courtesy of Valerie Macon/AFP via Getty Images.











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