Review: Tia Carrera ‘Tried And True’

‘They may or may not record in a barbecue shack’ boasts the press schtick for this new emission from long running Texan riff purveyors Tia Carrera, and that perhaps, more than anything else I could say, sums up the general feel of Tried And True, their first record in about eight years. 

Tia Carrera ‘Tried And True’

While the opening riff of Layback might have a hint of their Californian desert cousins about it, the trio have that kind of smokey Southern feel which bleeds out of the grooves. If you’ve ever wondered what an instrumental, downtuned ZZ Top would sound like, then Tried And True might be the answer. A collection of jams that give off enough heat to cook an entire cow in minutes.

The trio understand that it’s all in the swing and the swagger. The fantastically organic ‘band in a room’ production suits the jam like feel perfectly, it’s like Tia Carrera are in the room and you’re a fly on the wall watching them play for each other. And really it’s so apparent from everything here that the target audience is the band themselves, and how the trio lock in and react to each other throughout the album is what makes them so engaging.

Rather than just providing a plodding background, while Jason Morales solos away, the rhythm section of Erik Conn and Curt Christenson are the real magic makers. With a bass sound as deep as the ocean anchoring everything, Conn & Christenson take a basic idea and shift it, let it flow to its’ logical conclusion, keeping it just steady enough that you can be hypnotised.

The fantastically organic ‘band in a room’ production suits the jam like feel perfectly, it’s like Tia Carrera are in the room and you’re a fly on the wall…

Morales himself lets fly throughout the five tracks with some fluid Hendrix inspired soloing and big bluesy riffs that sit perfectly on Swingin’ Wing and acid flashback atmospherics on Zen And The Art Of The Thunderstorm. He’s not interested in shredding. His playing flows tastefully in response to those lava like movements of the bass and drums in tandem.

It’s driving music, both literally and figuratively. You could stick it on the stereo for a drive along the coast on a summer day and feel like you’re in your own Sixties road movie, but also its music that’s in continuous movement. You get the sense that this could only be made by people who’ve played together for a long time, anticipating where each other will go in the flow of the sound.

Tia Carrera have always been largely improvisational and this is a collection of moments, rather than traditional songs. Again, playing that fly on the wall role as a listener, you can almost see them in your head simultaneously lost in the music, but watching each other closely for shifts in dynamic.

Plus, unlike some of their more indulgent peers, Tried And True is a snapshot, rather than an exhibition, coming in at just under 40 minutes. It flies by, and bar the title track coming in around the fourteen minute mark, the songs get in and out without overstaying their welcome.

Label: Small Stone Records
Band Links: Facebook | Instagram

Scribed by: Jamie Grimes