“It’s like a metamorphosis—out of the old and into the now,” says Dave Herrero of his third album, Corazón, releasing officially in October 2012. “We’re combining old-school sensibilities and modern recording technology, and bringing the two worlds together in a much different way than we have in the past.”
Bringing worlds together is something to which Dave is no stranger. He’s teamed up with guitarist and songwriting virtuoso Felix Reyes for years, releasing 2009’s Austin to Chicago to critical acclaim (it was nominated for Illinois Debut Blues Album of the Year). That album delivered a collection of original material and rare covers powerfully crafted to embody both Texas and Chicago blues styles through the perspectives of accomplished musicians from two different eras (Dave is 35; Felix, 55). The album created something current, but with a meticulous 1950s blues sound.
With Corazón, they once again proudly hold to their blues roots, but this time face boldly forward, breaking through to a brave new sound. The album’s liner notes begin with a quote from Corinthians about the unfaltering, irrepressible nature of love, which sets the tone for the diverse collection of songs. “They’re not love songs as much as they’re stories of love, whether they’re tragic, regretful, soulful or determined.”
The opening cut, “Old Sun,” sets things off with the tale of a wayward soul unfit for “this troubled world,” who’s headed out to sea, tattered sails and all, in pursuit of “a better day.” From the first note, Dave solidly asserts this as a rock-and-roll album versus a straight-up blues effort.
The entire album walks the line between what’s rooted and earthen, and what’s improvised and unexpected. This is not an album that’s easy to pin down, because that’s not what Dave or Felix is about. Instead, they dedicate themselves to each shade of love the “stories” here embody, through carefully crafted detail and tone. Tracks like Felix’s “Angeline” and “Cheatin’ Blues,” by Texan songwriter and longtime collaborator Matt Powell, clearly demonstrate the band’s ability to restrain without holding back.
“Won’t Be Too Long” (written by Dave and Felix, along with Jimmy Burns), “So I Can Die Easy” (by Dave) and “After the Rain” (with music by Felix and lyrics by the band’s newest contributor, songwriter Steve Batterson), are a series of new rockers to which there is often more than meets the ear. “After the Rain,” for example, pays homage to Spanish poet Federico García Lorca.
The record contains two covers: an interpretation of the standard “Rollin’ n Tumblin’ ” and Bob Dylan’s “It Takes a Lot to Laugh, It Takes a Train to Cry.”
“Dave Herrero marries classic blues vocabulary with modern rock stylings and techniques. Add in his spectacular voice, and you’ve got something truly beautiful. It was an absolute joy to participate in the creation of this record,” says co-producer Greg Magers.
The album features a diverse, heavy-hitting collective of artists, hand-selected by Dave and Felix to create the album’s distinctly textured sound. Credits include:
Greg Magers, five-time Grammy-nominated engineer and co-producer (with Dave)
Henrik Maarud, Norwegian Grammy winner (drums)
Cedric Burnside, drums on “Old Sun,” “Lover Man” and “After the Rain”
Chris Foreman of Chicago’s Deep Blue Organ Trio (Hammond B100)
Manny Sanchez, producer for Umphrey’s McGee (mixing)