Reviewed by Harry Kaplan
I can’t stop laughing. The band’s name is Banjovi! Get it? It is like a play on words with Bon Jovi and every time I say it to myself, I giggle. Bajovi! Hahahahaha! That is about the only thing funny about this album. This is serious country music and it is damn good. Some of the best I have heard in a long time. The lead singer, Hadji Banjovi, has such pristine vocals. They are twangy and delivered like the classical country stars of yesteryear.
I know I will listen to this one for a long time. Besides the amazing vocals, it has some great pedal steel, mandolin, accordion and even some saw. Yes, I said saw. The songs where the saw is used reminds me of the song in the opening scene of One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest. If you know that movie, you will understand when you listen to this album. Hint: The Goldfinch (Track 5).
Of the 12 songs on Laredo, six are electrified and six are acoustic. What is a constant on all 12 tracks is Banjovi’s magnificent countrified vocals. The album starts of with one of the acoustic numbers. Laredo is a Tejano number with some accordion and acoustic guitar. Those spanish style guitar licks and the minimalism of this tune gets me a little emotional. Unbelievable. Words are leaving me. These emotions are difficult to express.
If you are ever out walking the streets of Laredo, This fine cowboy who boldly walks by, He says I'm from Texas, Hell yes I'm from Texas, Well he might be from Texas, but strangers can lie.
These lines are delivered with such conviction and the music is so authentic, you really feel like you are deep in South Texas.
The next song is an electric number that is a perfect sad country song in the vein of George Jones. Oklahoma’s Worry Now is a sad break up song about love gone wrong and it is a real tear jerker. The twangy guitar and pedal steel really help to pull out the melancholy mood. This song is straight out of the 70s country playbook and it sounds incredibly well suited right here in 2017. Take out the tissue when you listen to this number.
If you are a fan of the 70s style country, then you will totally dig the next number, Darrington Sawyer. Another absolutely brilliant electrified song that encompasses so much emotion that you feel like you are there in the thick of things. I honestly cannot get enough of this song about living the life of a logger. It really give a very realistic depiction of what it means to work as a lumberjack. Banjovi knows how to wear his emotions on his sleeve and the result is music that is so full of realism it is palpable.
If you get the impression that I like this, you are correct. Like is too mild of a word. I love it! This will spend a lot of time in heavy rotation for me. I hope Banjovi is here to stay for while.