Rock en Español is not just “rock in Spanish,” it is a hell of a lot more. Out of the many categories and subcategories for Spanish language music, rock en Español is, without a doubt, the richest and most diverse of all Spanish music genres. The name itself should be synonymous with sui generis. While at the same time, it is essential to point out that this genre is not only infused with traditional Latin sounds but also infused with jazz, blues, country, folk, soul, reggae, funk, and even metal. And musicians like Diego Vasallo are a clear example of why this genre is particularly exceptional when compared to other genres of Spanish language music.
Las Rutas Desiertas is Diego Vasallo’s follow up album to the excellent “Baladas para un Autoretrato“(Subterfuge Records,2016). Both records were co-produced by Fernando Macaya, who also plays guitar on this new album, and often plays on some touring gigs with Mikel Erentxun. Although Las Rutas Desiertas has somewhat of a dark sound and feel to it—it is not as bleak as it seems, or as the album title suggests (Deserted Routes). The lyrics are full of positive outtakes, and a hopeful outlook into the future. There is a lot more light and positive vibes on this record, which is a departure in tone from Vasallo’s previous album.
Diego Vasallo is a master lyricist, and this album is a confirmation of his mastery. At times, he sounds similar to Andres Calamaro, which is not a bad thing. Still, If you are sick and tire of Calamaro’s nonsensical lyrics as of late, then Vasallo is the perfect antidote. Diego Vasallo has delivered another fantastic album—full of soul, rock, folk, and a touch of blues. An album worth multiple listening sessions, and I feel that it will age exceptionably well with time.
Here is a quick breakdown of Las Rutas Desiertas.
- Mi Historia: Cabaret vibes are the best way to describe this track. Diego has a deep affinity for Bob Fosse’s film Cabaret (1972), which has always inspired and influenced some of his solo work.
- Cargamento: It is all about the good times ahead and the promise of a better tomorrow. This is a beautiful song.
- Mecha en la Tormenta: This is such an alluring song. The lyrics are just magical and full of hope. The harmonica makes a cameo and adds a touch of blues towards the end.
- Esta Noche No Se Parece a Ninguna: One of my favorite tracks on this album. Everything about this song works. Vasallo is at his songwriting best here.
- Entre el Olvido y el Perdón: This song is pure poetry wrapped in melody.
- Erase Una Vez: This track has a cinematic feel to it. I picture the opening of a film, set somewhere in the desert.
- Alli Te Esperare: My favorite track in this album. A beautiful love ballad. The lyrics, the vocals, the guitar play—they are all flawless.
- El Rio Baja Crecido: The electric guitar shows up here, and it is impeccable.
- Intemperie: Folksy and mellow. Reminds me of early Duncan Dhu.
- No Me Niegues Nada: There is this air of blues and folk here. Reminds me of early Eric Clapton and Leonard Cohen.
- Las Rutas Desiertas: Melancholic notes bring this masterpiece to a close. This final track sounds like a declaration of hope and the possibilities lying ahead in an uncertain future.
LAS RUTAS DESIERTAS (Galerna, 2020)