Boomkat Product Review:
Their sixth album proper (not counting the various tour-only CDs), Calexico's Carried To Dust is another collection of dusty, cinematic songs from America's South West, all set in airy, widescreen arrangements populated by echoing lapsteel and fiery mariachi horns. On Carried To Dust, the band are at their best on the downbeat numbers, running into danger of sounding a bit stuffy on the weird prairie skank of 'Fractured Air (Tornado Watch)' or opener 'Victor Jara's Hands', which sounds like something that might get nominated in the Best Latin Rock/Alternative category at the Grammy Awards, Fortunately, the bulk of the album takes on a more pensive, atmospheric persona, the first instance of which being 'Two Silver Trees', a clear standout with great potential as a single. This sort of form is sustained on 'The News About William', with its elegant, sweeping strings, and later, on 'Slowness', a brilliant, if by-the-book country ballad featuring Canadian songwriter Pieta Brown. There are a few notable guest spots on the album, including Tortoise's Doug McCombs and Iron & Wine's Sam Beam, who lends vocals to 'House Of Valparaiso'. It's actually quite strange hearing the Sub Pop mainstay's voice outside its usual context; those close-up mic techniques and harmonised layers are gone, replaced by the sound of a more understated delivery. Taken as a whole body of work, Carried To Dust isn't as direct as its immediate predecessor, 2006's Garden Ruin, but there are plenty of classic Calexico elements dispersed throughout the record, and moments of brilliance that would charm even the most casual of fans. Hioghly Recommended.