Burrito Deluxe,
The Whole Enchilada
(Luna Chica, 2004)

The Whole Enchilada is the sophomore release of Burrito Deluxe, a five-member country-and-western band. Most of the 13 songs on this album are love songs, and many have stories to tell -- stories about relationships, money, the road, death and, of course, love.

The narrators of these stories usually have a positive, optimistic view -- which certainly won me over. I'm not really patient with the whinier kind of country music. The songs chosen on this album -- which has a couple of famous covers -- have heartfelt and individualistic lyrics, and they don't sound like those "written-by-committee" tunes that pop up so often on country radio.

Carlton Moody's heartfelt vocals on "You Got Gold" goes down, sweet and slow like brown sugar, without being hokey. "A Woman Like You," written by the band, is a slow ballad, catchy and graceful with its lyrical description of a singer surprised to be in love with a woman new to his experience, a love song which praises without being corny. I really liked it.

"Ezekial's Wheel," the only vaguely religious song on the album, should have packed more energy than it does. Despite the quick tempo, it felt too restrained, too clockwork. I could almost hear the metronome marking time. The song begs to cut loose. "Zydeco Ball" works a little better ("The music starts when the sun goes down/keeps a goin' till it comes back around") and feels more airborne. These two songs seem like they'd be really fun to hear at a concert.

"All I Left, Left with You" has a bouncing beat despite being a lost-love blues number. And the smoothly sad "Everywhere I Go" shows off Moody's vocal talents.

"The Last Letter Home" could be an old Appalachian ballad, speaking about a Confederate soldier far from home who "joined the Southern cavalry for fun/I'd ride a thousand horses/Always had a way with a gun. Now I'm among the horseless riders lying still/Swallowed up by the cause on the Widows Hill."

Every country album needs a good outlaw song. "Memphis Money" is a good contribution, upbeat and devil-may-care. "Memphis Money is just as green/As any kind of money that I've ever seen./And who's to say what's right or wrong. We've been living like this too long." Another song about an outlaw of a different kind is "Rex Bob Lowenstein," a witty jab at the radio industry about an everyman rebel radio DJ. This comical swipe is so singable it feels almost like a kids' song.

"Way Back in the Mountains" is the only real downer, with a singer leaving the city and going back home to the simple things of life. It's got a leisurely tempo but I'm not a fan of whiny country songs. But those who like nostalgia will like it. "Baton Rouge" is another song about trying one's luck in another town but it's a lot more hopeful and the music more upbeat with some neat guitar strumming.

Most of the tracks on this album are examples of fine country music. The jazzy blues instrumental cut called "Sister" was the only song that left me cold. It meandered a bit too much for my taste. With no real musical movement or variety, it felt a bit like a rut.

Burrito Deluxe is Carlton Moody (vocals, acoustic guitar, electric guitar, mandolin), Sneaky Pete Kleinow (pedal-steel guitar), Garth Hudson (piano, Hammond organ, synthesizers, accordion), Jeff "Stick" Davis (electric and acoustic bass, vocals) and Rick Lonow (drums, percussion, vocals).

- Rambles
written by Carole McDonnell
published 23 April 2005

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