This is the fifth studio album for Max and Veronica, at the time still under the name Veronica & The Red Wine Serenaders. This is the fifth studio album by the italian combo that, over the years, has become an established reality in the European music scene as part of the blues, ragtime, folk and country blues panorama. “The Mexican Dress” was recorded partly in the United States at Pacific Studios in Tacoma, Seattle by Mark Simmons, and partly in Italy at Suonovivo, by Dario Ravelli, also responsible for the the final mixing.
The result is an amazing and extremely varied job. In the track list for the first time there are some original compositions written by Max De Bernardi and Veronica Sbergia with the help of Denny Hall, leader of the American band The Nite Café, as well as a handful of traditional pieces reproposed with taste and originality, for a total of fourteen tracks plus a “lost track”.
Ranging from the swing jazz of the title track (one of the original pieces written by Max and Veronica), to the bare sound of The Weed Smoker’s Dream (a minor blues forerunner of the most popular “Why do not you do right “played in 1936 by Tom Dorsey’s Harlem Hamphats) and Dope Head Blues (Victoria Spevey). The typical Vaudeville ambiance, so dear to the band, echoes in Who’s That Knocking At My Door (a classic from the Hannette Hanshaw repertoire) and the amusing Caught us doin ‘it (Hokum Boys) and go back to the blues with songs such Didn ‘t mean a thing, Gloryland (both written by Denny Hall) and Banana in your fruitbasket (Bo Carter).
There is no lack of sweet ballads with a vintage flavor thanks to Crying Time (Max and Veronica) and Shine on Harvest Moon (aka Tin Pan Alley tune from the 10’s). A tribute to the rural gospel is guaranteed by the traditional song Paul and Silas, arranged in the guitar style of the great Blind Reverend Gary Davis. But the new and interesting aspect in the repertoire is represented by an instrumental piece written by Max De Bernardi under the mysterious title of The Resurrection of the Honey Badger and, last but not least, the ballad Curse the Day in true Irish style – completed with an evocative uilleann pipe – played by Denny Hall.
In the end, after a 25” pause, you’ll find an almost unknown number from Papa Charlie Jackson, Loan me your heart, that, with the sound of the 6-string banjo and clarinet – brilliantly played by Joel Tepp, who has worked also with artists such as Denny ‘O Kiefe and Bonnie Raitt – is the perfect ending for “The Mexican Dress”.