Watertown

Watertown

by Mando Saenz
     
 
Mando Saenz is a relative newcomer on the folk/country scene, but his name will surely soon be synonymous with tasty, lyrical songwriting Texas-style, akin to Townes Van Zandt and Lyle Lovett. Watertown is a compelling calling card that tenders ten instantly likable original songs. In the No. 1 slot, the tenderly sorrowful "Julia" sets the album�s tone, with

Overview

Mando Saenz is a relative newcomer on the folk/country scene, but his name will surely soon be synonymous with tasty, lyrical songwriting Texas-style, akin to Townes Van Zandt and Lyle Lovett. Watertown is a compelling calling card that tenders ten instantly likable original songs. In the No. 1 slot, the tenderly sorrowful "Julia" sets the album�s tone, with its tale of a death row inmate remembering the woman he loves in his final hour. The next five are melancholic musings that look back to the past for truth, featuring melodies and lyrics that seem almost preternaturally matched. "Egg Song" breaks the nostalgic tension with a rollicking, tongue-in-cheek paean to male chauvinism. Honoring the Betty Crockers and Aunt Jeminas of the world, Saenz winks, "Well, little girl she satisfies. She kneads my dough, makes it rise, she cooks my eggs, she makes me smile my friend." And "Engine Roll," with its upbeat zydeco and bluegrass flourishes, offers respite from the heart-wrenching poignancy of "All I Own" and "Noble Kings." The one slight stumbling block may be "Yonder Voices," which seems to drift along solely on the warm, winsome current of Saenz's voice and is in need of a rhythmic anchor. All in all, Saenz proves he made exactly the right call when he detoured from a business career in favor of writing and recording Watertown in 2002 on Houston's regional Plethorazine label; it's now remixed, remastered, and rereleased nationally on Frank Liddell's Carnival Records imprint.

Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide - Ronnie D. Lankford
It's difficult to stand out in the music business, and this is even truer if a performer is in a popular field like alternative country. It might be easy enough for the new kid on the block to cover the standard bases -- a voice that cracks, a steel guitar, and a handful of story-songs -- but difficult to make it sound fresh. Mando Saenz's Watertown is a solid album, and alternative country fans will enjoy the straightforward production and rootsy arrangements. Saenz is also a good singer and careful songwriter. On the title cut, he subtly builds an interior monologue as the narrator recalls his own past. "There's a song that I heard on the radio today that took me back ...," he sings, but the memories are more like fleeting impressions, capturing a mood more than a time and place. Saenz also has a good feel for ballads like "Noble Kings." All of this is solid enough, but a certain sameness creeps in as Watertown moves forward. Yes, Saenz's lyrics are filled with careful observations, but the individual songs -- melody and structure wise -- don't always stand out, and the heartfelt vocals begin to sound as stylized as mainstream country after a while (teaching one's voice to crack and whine, after all, isn't something Saenz picked up on the farm). Still, Watertown is a worthwhile effort that will please the alternative country crowd and anyone who enjoys a good story.

Product Details

Release Date:
01/25/2005
Label:
Thirty Tigers
UPC:
0899537000122
catalogNumber:
370001

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