Review: Carrie Rodriguez, 'Lola' The veteran singer and fiddler combines seemingly disparate influences into a single, gloriously cohesive Spanglish statement.

Review: Carrie Rodriguez, 'Lola'

Note: NPR's First Listen audio comes down after the album is released. However, you can still listen with the Spotify playlist at the bottom of the page.

Carrie Rodriguez, Lola Courtesy of the artist hide caption

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Courtesy of the artist

In my mind, there's a magical Mexican restaurant located somewhere in Austin, Texas; it's a place where people of all cultures, backgrounds, ages and languages rub elbows over mouthwatering Tex-Mex combination plates. Aging hippies, Chicano hipsters, old-school Texans in cowboy hats, abuelitas, blues musicians, Western fiddlers — they're all there.

It's an image I've imagined ever since I first heard music that combines influences across cultures, like Americana accented with conjunto or a blues-rock trio singing in Spanish. But I'd never heard the exact sounds that I'd imagined playing in a jukebox in that made-up restaurant until I heard Lola, the new album by Carrie Rodriguez.

The self-proclaimed "half-gringa, half-Chicana fiddle[r]" has made an album that combines seemingly disparate influences into one gloriously cohesive Spanglish statement. Lola's cross-cultural references turn a song about iconic ranchera vocalists Lola Beltran and Javier Solis into a tender expression of endless love, sung in English. Elsewhere, a song about this country's immigration policies is set to a loping cowboy shuffle. The seemingly improbable cultural mashups are a perfect expression of reality for many folks in Texas and beyond.