It's quite astonishing that Calexico's 'Carried To Dust' hasn't made more headlines this year. It is almost as if they are just expected to carry on releasing superb albums and their quality of work is virtually taken for granted these days. Their whole sound on this album is a celebration of the fusion of traditional and contemporary South-Western American music, incorporating a beguiling mixture of styles, such as the Latin rhythms and Mariachi horns on the excellent opener, 'Victor Jara's Hands', a tribute to the Chilean poet & musician who was murdered in the early 70's, 'Bend To The Road', which filters a little jazz into the proceedings, 'Writer's Minor Holiday', a dusty pop-rock song which has echoes of Grant Lee Buffalo and the chilled-out soundscape of the album closer, 'Contention City'. Those songs are only examples of the richness of influence and musical texture you can expect from this release and each wonderful track has something unique to offer to your listening experience.
Apart from those mentioned above, other songs which stand out for me include the dark and beautiful 'Two Silver Trees', the impossibly grand 'The News About William' (which could have easily featured in a John Ford film), the delicious distorted guitar of 'Man Made Lake', the haunting vocals on the laid-back 'House Of Valparaiso', a duet with Sam Beam (Iron and Wine), and the beautiful, almost-soporific 'Red Blooms'. Add to those highlights the romantic Spanish drama of 'Inspiracion', the straight-forward, sweet country duet of 'Slowness', the mesmerising acoustic guitar picking of 'Falling From Sleeves' and what sounds like the theme to a Spaghetti Western in 'El Gatillo (Trigger Revisited)' and you have one of the most remarkable and essential albums of the year. There is everything to like about 'Carried To Dust' and it deserves all of the superlatives you can possibly think of. Highly recommended.