Esquela – A Sign from God
This CD starts out of the gate full stride. The music is strong, & well-performed. But it’s vocalists Becca Frame & John “Chico” Finn that ignite “Not In My Back Yard.” The issues in the tune are real & I can respect the concerns. But a single tune doesn’t cover the depth of the issues or address its many tendrils. Or maybe, a simple song should just rock. Elvis Presley skimmed across similar terrain with soapbox preachers, people criticizing, second-guessers in “Clean Up Your Own Backyard,” but nobody listened. “Don’t hand me none of your lies…” he sang in 1969. Indeed.
But an LP review shouldn’t be the place to discuss & debate issues. The merit of the music is the focus. No music is going to reverse the course of any rivers today & you can’t convince me that anyone alive in 2021 is not better off than people 150 years ago.
Esquela features producer Eric “Roscoe” Ambel (acoustic guitars/electric guitar/rhythm guitar/vocals – former Del-Lords/Steve Earle), Mike Ricciardi (drums), Keith Christopher (bass), Matt Woodin & Brian Shafer (lead guitar), Andy York (harmonica on “Three Finger Joe”), & Rob Arthur (Hammond B3).
The 10-cut 5th LP release (A Sign from God – Due June 25th – Livestock Music) was recorded remotely over the course of months – 70’s style overdub with 2020 technology.
The creative & intense “Oradura,” lyrically explores a French village of the same name destroyed by the Nazis in 1944. Excellent effort. A lovely melody, riveting guitar work reaching back into history & the vocals are faithful. Finally, a band that tears away from cliches, simple song subjects & dives into something poignant. Becca Frame’s lead vocal is powerful, bluesy & concise like Bonnie Bramlett from the Delaney & Bonnie days. Some songs like “Rest of My Life,” sound as if they were plucked from the vaults of Delaney & Bonnie (“Comin’ Home”) with that well-articulated lyrical energy & maturity.
“The Good One (Give Ups)” has a tinge of Eric’s old band The Del-Lords. Lots of rollicking elements, beer scented pine walls & floors, assortments of The Brandos & The Band with the wonderful John “Chico” Finn vocals. Becca maintains the Band tradition with “1861” – a plaintive song with lots of Americana. Brian’s guitar is cohesive & perfect.
There’s a balance between lead vocals by Becca & Finn – together, sometimes solo. It makes for a varied consistent set of tunes. “First World Problems” is a nice-ass-kicker of a song with both singers unleashing with authority. The tunes are vibrant, imaginative, & rootsy contemporary. “Wait For Me,” is excellent & a strong finale.
Do all songs work? No. But their deficiency is minuscule & not an issue. The whole of the product captures more than many over an entire repertoire.
The Esquela 36-minute CD is available @ https://www.esquelatheband.com/