If I were to imagine the sequel to “One More Cup of Coffee,” setting two characters inside a spaghetti western and tracking their descent into the valley below, Escondido would be the composer of its soundtrack.
“The Ghost of Escondido” pans a landscape of a mischievous outlaw country; an opening brass line evokes images of wandering renegades, with cowboys hats tipped over devious, desert-worn eyes. The harmonies of duo Tyler James and Jessica Maros hypnotize, luring us into the image of an evil girl with guitar hips, and the temptation that follows her forewarning.
The psyche behind “The Ghost of Escondido” blossoms with songs whose bittersweet melodies denote a sadness that follows the unraveling of a romance. The sound is propelled forward by catchy choruses and guitar solos that draw up images of a meander’s soul, unable to navigate outside the direction of a setting autumn sun.
For me, this album reaches several musical apexes, akin to sitting atop a desert mountain, bearing witness to the kinetic energy of a treeless dawn. The first of these moments arrives with “Special Enough,” a song that I consider to be one of the most brilliant compositions to come out of Nashville thus far in 2013. The lyrics are selective and deceivingly simple; it is the space between the lines that bare the skeleton of romantic fatigue.
Escondido proves to be one of the newer bands whose originality and musical expertise blend to create a highbrow but tangible alternative-country sound, one made for autumn car drives under leaf-speckled windows, for drinking whiskey and shooting pool in the seductively gritty confines of Nashville’s best dive bars. It’s an emotive response to what could otherwise be strung-out and tiresome introspection; both Maros and James animate their music through underscored harmonic chemistry, a project that was fated to align.
Below is a unique look at which Nashvillians have inspired Escondido‘s artistry.
Five Nashville icons by Escondido :::
Lynn Lesher (seamstress) – Lynn is huge inspiration to me. From Dolly Parton to Willy Nelson, she’s behind so many iconic country music wardrobes. She’s lived in Nashville longer than any of us and has seen the ins and outs of the music scene through her sewing machine. She has a true to size Dolly dress form hanging out in her house.
Barry Walker (Marathon Village owner) – I used to have a space in Marathon Village when it was still pretty empty. I was pretty scared there on my own and Barry convinced me to stay. He supported my dreams and offered his support and most importantly he made me see his. He preserved an important piece to the Nashville community. Marathon Village is thriving.
Daniel Tashian (songwriter, artist) – Daniel used to host the hippest thing in town on Monday nights at 12th & Porter when i moved here in 2000. I couldn’t for the life of me get a slot but i’d go just to watch him banter between acts. A few years later he started this band w/ Jason Lehning & David Gehrke called The Bees (which became The Silver Seas) and when i heard it i just couldn’t handle how good it was. We’ve become friends since and when we write together i’m just a little puppy dog collecting his scraps. He’d be embarrassed if he read this but i just think he’s brilliant.
Jason Lehning (producer) – Ironically, Jess and I both did our first recordings with Jason a decade before we met each other. All i had was some college demos and he was the first person to make me a legit recording. I remember almost crying the first time he played me his mixes… i had never heard my songs sound good before. His production is classic.. only puts on the song what needs to be there. I remember being mad when he tracked my vocals through an SM7 instead of some expensive mic… i was an idiot. He’s helped jump start a lot of folks.
Mike Grimes (Grimey’s, The Basement) & John Bruton (Cannery/Mercy Lounge) – The lifeblood of our town’s music scene for as long as i’ve been here. Mike had Slowbar before The Basement and that straight up started East Nashville’s revival as far as I’m concerned. Bruton has always brought good national acts to town while supporting all the up and coming locals. Say what you will about Ryan Adams… but the dude wrote a whole verse about John in Tennessee Sucks:
“There goes Johnny B.
Weird and tall
He says the band, they’ve got good songs,
they just don’t draw.”