On her debut solo album after three duo records with Chip Taylor, singer/songwriter and fiddle player Carrie Rodriguez offers a mixture of her diverse musical background, which is rooted in Southwest country and blues styles but also boasts a sophistication nurtured at the Berklee College of Music. Rodriguez tends to de-emphasize her fiddle work in favor of an ensemble sound and her own singing, which employs a rural Southern accent that is liable to remind listeners of Lucinda Williams. Unlike Williams, however, she is more interested in setting moods and creating musical textures than in rocking out. Her songs tend to be taken at a slow tempo, with lots of interaction between musicians including guitarist Bill Frisell and pedal steel player Greg Leisz. The title track, which leads off the album, is typical. It oozes along, with impressionistic lyrics that Rodriguez intones with lazy, sinuous phrasing, building up to a head of steam that is then dissipated as the track gives way to a free jazz horn solo. Rodriguez is in touch with basic Southwest styles, and she even takes on Tex-Mex, sawing her way through "Never Gonna Be Your Bride," the uptempo second track. But, loose and apparently offhand as the playing can be, it often reveals players with considerable chops. This is not playing down, exactly, but there is a degree of deception going on, and Rodriguez is the chief culprit, frequently displaying more musical complexity than music this rootsy usually features. That makes Seven Angels on a Bicycle an accomplished introduction.
Share this page
AllMusic Review by William Ruhlmann