As a celebrated music journalist I am often awoken at unholy hours by the postman carrying huge sacks of mail from fans eager to know about my glamorous lifestyle, and how they might follow in my footsteps when they are finally released back into society. It is heartbreaking to shatter their illusions and explain that whilst, yes, the monumental wages, free cds, drugs and backstage passes are a real boon there are many days which are quite, quite tedious, I mean, after the sixth afternoon tea with Courtney Love you quickly run out of things to say. Perhaps the worst thing about this vocation, though, is having to critique ‘nice’ albums.
Guess what? Depedro is a ‘nice’ album. You are educated people, you know what I’m taking about right? It isn’t bad, it doesn’t have any embarrassing collaborations with Spice Girls on it, all the right notes are in all of the right places but it just has no spark. No one is ever going to accost you at the water cooler and excitedly exclaim Hey! Have you heard the new DePedro album? and, if they did, then you wouldn’t remember even if you were currently listening to it on your i-pod while they were speaking.
Who or what is a DePedro anyway? I hear you ask. DePedro – a name chosen because it sounded “kind of Mediterranean, kind of Spanish” – is the musical project of singer and guitarist Jairo Zavala. His first solo project isthe culmination of years of writing and playing songs for others, including Spanish star Amparanoia, instrumental surf phenoms Los Coronas and working as the touring guitarist for Calexico, not to mention as frontman and founder of Vacazul and 3000 Hombres, both renowned bands in the respective Spanish rock and blues scenes. Jairo has finally decided to step into the spotlight and effectively use Calexico as his backing band.
This is Tex-Mex border music, a la Calexico, meets the Spanish sense of melody, and songs like La Memoria, which was inspired by a trip to Mexico and the poverty and injustice he saw there, and Como El Viento, a kind of love song, reflect both equally. Much of the album is delivered in his native Castilian tongue and, as I speak no Spanish, it is hard to comment on the lyrical content. It is a slick, smooth sounding record which might find a place in your collection as the soundtrack to a romantic evening in front of the fire if you are finding that Powerslave isn’t creating the right mood. It isn’t bad, in fact, like many albums which come my way, it is quite ‘nice’.