Over the years I have had the opportunity to listen to a few of Joe Ely's albums, and whilst the vast majority fail to inspire me, this one 'Letter To Laredo' just simply blew my socks off. Each and every song on this CD is superb, particularly the cover of Tom Russell's 'Gallo Del Cielo' which has to be the centre piece. Tom Russell has aknowledged Joe Ely for his treatment of this song and I for one will say that this version is head and shoulders above any of Tom's versions, and I would be a very big Tom Russell fan.
If you like a Mexicain flavour to your Americana, then look no further than this CD. Immerse yourself in the stories and you can imagine you are observing life in Mexico or a Spanish quarter in any large American city. We have stories of Love (All Just To Get To You / I Saw It In You / Ranches and Rivers / Letter To Laredo ). There is the story of the poser with the broken heart, St Valentine (the pseudo cool young Spanish American with his beat up red Continental which he said wasn't his but was only a rental, in his shades, cowboy hat and torn tee shirt of the Virgin Madonna). There are stories of lost love, (Run Preciosa, / I'm A Thousand Miles From Home and the superb She Finnally Spoke Spanish To Me). And not forgetting Gallo Del Cielo, the tale of the young poor Mexican stealing a flawed fighting cock, intending to use his fight winnings to buy back the land stolen from his family by Pancho Villa. One could regard this CD as a modern day Marty Robins style recording.
Guests on this recording include Bruce Springsteen, Raul Malo and Jimmie Dale Gilmore, a fellow member of The Flatlanders which included Butch Handcock and Joe Ely. A superb recording and one which should grace anyone's CD collection.