Exploring the western side of country music is what is now the third record by the Texas native and current Colorado resident Bo DePeña everything is about. On his previous, self-titled record, this young man, who was originally from Laredo, found himself both sonically and personally in the vast expanses of country music and North America. He found his place on It's About To Get Western want to be, at least for now. And that lies in the shadow of the Rocky Mountains and makes music that is inspired by the rough landscapes and people there.
DePeña borrows the title track, written by Mike Blakely and popularized by Gary P. Nunn, to give the go-ahead, then takes the reins herself. To give this record the western touch he was looking for, he didn't put together a team of players from different ports of call; He called on Houston's two-step and swing experts, Western Bling, to play the role of the backup band, along with the band's drummer Gus Alvarado as producer, to create a cohesive and authentic Western sound behind his own Songs fits.
The result is a fruitful combination of music and words for It's About to Get Western, be it the love story with a diabolical twist in "The Ballad of Rat Creek" or "El Camino Lounge" that reach pretty much every mountain saloon or ranch-hand bunkhouse jumping or poor Bo's love for a hard-to-tame rodeo queen in Colorado Rose. Mixing almost everything on the record with the Rocky Mountain experience stimulates the imagination and the mind while listening.
Nonetheless, it might be the songs on the album that have little to do with western expanses, but rather love and abandonment, where Bo DePeña's writing excels most. “Second Cup of Coffee” feels too cleverly written and too classically simple and eloquent not to have been taken over from a dusty old western swing record. But lo and behold, it was made by DePeña. "Any Old Reason" picks up on the mountain folk traditions of Colorado as well as country and western and is one of those songs that sparkles just as much in what is said as what they do not say.
The album ends with Bo singing the old classic "Smile," which was supposedly written by Charlie Chaplin and recorded by Nat King Cole. As a joker as it might seem at first glance for a western album, it is the perfect end to this work. DePeña has a good singing voice, but sometimes struggles to find her sweet spot when switching between different styles of classic country. In “Smile” and “If I Let You Go Again” he finds his voice, which was born about 70 years too late.
Bo DePeña recently deleted his Facebook and Instagram accounts and prefers to be out in the woods fishing and hunting than worrying about getting his music out to the masses. If you look at his live schedule for the coming summer, there is only one date outside of the Mountain time zone. He sings what he lives and lives what he sings and hopes the world begins. But he is not going to contract the disease of the modern rush to achieve this.
It's About To Get Western gets better with every listen, and features really excellent instrumentation and arrangements that fit perfectly with the songs and vision Bo DePeña had for this work. Like Colter Wall, Corb Lund, and others, Bo DePeña tries to keep the traditions of Western music alive, not just by singing them, but by living them so that he can sing them with truth and authenticity.
1 3/4 arms high
– – – – – – – – – – – – – –
Samples are unfortunately not available on YouTube.