Songwriter Chris Isaak clearly loves the reverb-laden rockabilly and country of Sun Studios. In particular, he transfers the sweeping melancholy of Roy Orbison's classic Monument singles ("Crying," "Oh, Pretty Woman," "In Dreams") to the more stripped-down, rootsy sound of Sun, resulting in a stylized take on '50s and '60s rock & roll that made him into a star in the early '90s, propelled to a great degree by the hit single "Wicked Game." Isaak began performing after he graduated from college, forming the rockabilly band Silvertone. The group, which featured guitarist James Calvin Wilsey, bassist Rowland Salley, and drummer Kenney Dale Johnson, would become the singer/guitarist's permanent supporting band
Carrie Rodriguez is a Texan singer-songwriter and violinist whose repertoire includes country, folk and rock, but is at her best when she explores her Mexican roots. Her great aunt Eva Garza, a Spanish-language singing star in the 1940s, inspired Rodriguez to “create my own blend of Tex-Mex music”. It’s a mix of classic Mexican songs, many slow and unashamedly emotional, and her own compositions, which are often in the ranchera tradition. The opener, Perfidia, shows how well Rodriguez has succeeded. She revives this tuneful, well-worn song of betrayal with pained, attacking vocals, helped by strong harmony work by Raul Malo and glorious twanging guitar by the great Bill Frisell. Elsewhere, there’s a powerful treatment of the 30s love song Noche de Ronda. Rodriguez’s compositions have a dash of country-blues and include a tribute to the ranchera star Lola Beltrán. This is a fresh, confident set.
The DVD of this June 2, 2004, Austin show is over twice the length of the CD equivalent, but it's not just quantity that makes it an important item in the Mavericks' catalog. Eight extra tracks add depth and breadth to the band's already eclectic mix of Americana, Cuban, Tex-Mex, classic honky-tonk, and bluesy '50s-styled rock & roll. Nine additional musicians, including a terrific four-piece horn section and two keyboardists, bolster but never overwhelm the quartet. Guitarist/songwriter/frontman Raul Malo is not surprisingly the star of the show, with lead guitarist Eddie Perez the only other bandmember to attract substantial camera time….