Riders of the Canyon “Riders of the Canyon”

Great Canyon Records, 2023

Joana Serrat’s band project ‘Riders of the Canyon’ blends classic Americana influences in ten-song collection.

Artwork for Joana Serrat album "Riders of the Canyon"Well known on these shores for her excellent solo work, most recently her 2021 release ‘Hardcore From The Heart’, Joana Serrat’s latest album is her side project  ‘Riders Of The Canyon’, a collaboration with Northern Irish singer-songwriter Matthew McDaid and Catalonians Roger Usart and Victor Partido, which was formed in early 2017.

With each of the four an artist in their own right, Riders Of The Canyon’s debut allows each of them to share lead vocals, Serrat taking the lead on just three of the ten tracks. This is both a strength and weakness of the collection of all original songs, lending variety but perhaps with some loss of coherence, as a range of influences and different vocal stylings are evident.

Up-tempo opening track ‘Master Of My Lonely Time‘ features Serrat in fine form on vocals, referencing Lou Reed in her lyrics “Your arms are looming from the dark/ My flesh the only spark In the dawn of a new morning/ Spinning in this ring of dust /Satellite of love/Am I free from falling?” over a driving reverb-heavy rock number, with fine work on lead guitar from guest Joey McClellan, one of many credited on the album.

‘Riders of the Canyon’, an atmospheric down-tempo number with Serrat on vocals, calls up visions of the canyon of the title with pedal steel from another guest, BJ Cole, with Mariachi-style trumpet taking us to the Spaghetti Western era.

The last track to feature Serrat on lead vocal is her co-write with McDaid and David Giménez, ‘Some Kinda Addiction‘, another up-tempo rocker, “Sometimes I can see the future/ And there’s a crack in the wall/ We’re part of some kinda addiction /Locked up in the chains of love”, with a powerful distorted guitar solo.

Elsewhere McDaid features prominently on lead vocal, credited as lyricist on ‘Dirty Water‘, leaning musically to the Byrds and the Eagles with a pleasing 12-string guitar motif repeated throughout. On his ‘Wild River’ the guitar and harmonica arrangement brings to mind early-era Neil Young, but then surprises with soulful backing vocals taking the song in an old-time/gospel direction.

Maintaining an up-tempo feel, ‘Sunrising’ features Partido on the lead vocal, with a strong Tom Petty vibe from its insistent guitar and melodic chorus “Maybe I just wanna to feel it again/ Take the steps I always wanted to take/ Soon I will be able to breathe the air /Make the choice I wanted to make/ And follow the sun.”

‘Everything Blooms In Spring’ changes the mood, a downtempo track composed by Serrat, featuring her finger-picked guitar with vocals from Usart, melancholy and unsettling, following ‘Here In My Dreams’, another down-tempo reflective composition by Partido and Giménez  and with Partido on vocals “I found your last twisted letter from the far/ Remained for years unopened at my dusty teenage desk /And it said “sure, we will never come back to this point that we dreamed about” /These days, the scene and the characters seem to blur /And the freezing lost illusions keep me caged and numb /But I could see you/ Activating old warning signs /Gonna be in my dreams.”

The album was recorded in Barcelona, Girona, Texas, Nashville, Oregon, and London, produced by John Morgan Askew, Joey McClellan, McKenzie Smith and the Riders Of The Canyon, and mixed by Ted Young (Kurt Vile, Mercury Rev, Israel Nash) and John Morgan Askew (Neko Case, She & Him, Alela Diane).

A many-faceted collection from Serrat and her fellow Riders of the Canyon, with much to enjoy.

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About David Jarman 117 Articles
Long time fan of Americana genre, from early days of Ry Cooder, through to today's thriving scene. Regular visitor to USA ( Nashville/Austin/Memphis/LA ) live music junkie, I play guitar, mandolin, harmonica, plus vocals, run monthly jam session in Broadstairs
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