There’s nothing quite like the rousing sting of the amplifier hum that comes with seeing a bar band ripping through the last organic outlet of live music in America, and in their new album A Señorita, A Sweet Tea and A Few Good Songs, country-rockers Water to Wine manages to bring this vibe into the studio with them – creating devastatingly crisp results in the process. Although there’s an argument to be made that a band like this would sound a lot better on the stage than they ever would within the confines of four studio walls, A Señorita, A Sweet Tea and A Few Good Songs challenges that narrative with fire-starters like “Sing You a Song” and “We’re Gonna Have a Big Time.” It’s an all-around immersive tracklist, and it comes without many of the processed elements both country and rock fans are used to these days.
The physicality of the music here is pretty consistent, from simpler tunes like “Hero” to layered works like “Good Time’n,” “Sisters and Brothers” and the eponymous “Water to Wine,” but I don’t know that we could accuse this group of focusing too much on presence over posterity. There’s a lot to be said about the delicate nature of these arrangements, even when they’re powered by heavy guitar parts.
Melodically, A Señorita, A Sweet Tea and A Few Good Songs is a very intriguing work, with some of its most sterling moments coming in the form of unpredictable numbers like “What Kind of Fool,” “It’s All Good,” and the smartly-designed “That’s What I’m Talkin’ About.” It’s pretty clear that Water to Wine takes the softer elements of their music as seriously as they do the searing, as there’s seamless connectivity between the harder rock tunes and the smoother country songs that I wouldn’t expect out of this kind of a hybrid (usually, at least). Details get overlooked in a lot of big projects, but that just isn’t the case for this indie crew.
The country music influence over “Sing You a Song,” “Chillin’ with Me,” and “Sisters and Brothers” is truly significant, but you couldn’t stifle the rock n’ roll undertones of these tracks for anything. No matter the tempo or the tone of the lyricism in A Señorita, A Sweet Tea and A Few Good Songs, Water to Wine can’t help but sound a little rebellious next to their peers on either side of the aesthetical spectrum, and one could easily see where they would be able to keep both groups of fans more than satisfied with this kind of formula.
If you’re like me and want to get the summer season started a little early this year, you might want to take a peek at what Water to Wine has accomplished in the ten-track A Señorita, A Sweet Tea and A Few Good Songs, as it’s one of the better examples of sunshine-stained country-rock you’re going to get out of a group of artists on the mainstream or underground end of music the same. This has been a premier era for crossover acts, but for what the standard in this particular strain of alternative music calls for, I think Water to Wine is going above and beyond in their first proper LP.