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Should’ve Bought A Pony – Paso Fino

Paso Fino, comprised of guitarist Shane Lamphier (Donna the Buffalo, Bubba
George String Band) and songwriter/guitarist Diana Andersen (Good Dog Bad
Dog), aren’t exactly breaking any new ground musically on their I-Town
Records debut, Should’ve Bought A Pony. Yet they still managed to put
out an incredibly listenable and occasionally danceable album. Judging by
the opening track, "Fiery Ride," it is probably safe to say that Andersen is
a Joni Mitchell fan, as her influence on this song is practically

The duo has actually been performing together in various incarnations since
1993, when they were in the electric band Boojum Twist. Lamphier was
actually the founding drummer of Donna The Buffalo, and he toured and
recorded with the band for seven years, but with Paso Fino he gives up the
sticks for a guitar and the occasional electric piano and percussion
instruments. Andersen handles the songwriting duties, lead vocals, second
guitar, and even some of her own harmony vocals.

Early on, Andersen and Lamphier create the ambience of a backstreet cafn
a small Italian town, or a gypsy carnival under a full moon with tracks like
"Quietly as Lust" and "Where I’m Going." The latter seems almost tailor-made
for a VH1 video, evoking thoughts of some of Santana’s recent radio friendly
collaborations with young artists. This exotic feel shows up again later on
"Desperately Seeking Redemption," arguably the catchiest tune on the album,
starting off with Andersen’s whisper-like vocals and gradually building to
the passionate chorus.

The ten various guest musicians that appear sporadically throughout the
album give each track its own unique voice and help to fill out the sound of
the duo. Lamphier’s former bandmate, Donna The Buffalo singer Tara Nevins,
adds her electric fiddle skills to "Pray For Rain." Lamphier even sheds his
faithful acoustics to pick up an electric guitar for a few of the songs,
like "Belly Up." Many of the song titles in the album booklet have a small
puzzling sentence fragment written underneath them, hinting that perhaps
some of Andersen’s lyrics have an inside meaning hidden from the casual
listener. But sometimes they probably don’t. For example, "A love song,"
appears under the title of "Belly Up," a fact that is immediately reinforced
by the smokier-than-usual tone to Andersen’s voice and the sultry barroom
feel of the music.

The only bad decision on the entire album is undoubtedly "Small Bird." This
is definitely one of those songs with some sort of inside meaning to the
lyrics. The liner notes say "For Joe Leaphorn, almost real." Why Andersen
felt the need to write a song for a character from Tony Hillerman’s Navaho
tribal police mystery novels, we may never know. Perhaps more of a mystery
is why they ever decided to include this somber, droning mess on the album,
as it seems more out of place than Britney Spears at a Marilyn Manson

Not only did Paso Fino create a solid album that is sure to be a hit with
fans of everything from folk to jazz to Latin to pop, but they decided to
have it released through the Ithaca, NY based I-Town Records, guaranteeing
that their music will have the potential to reach a very diverse, very
dedicated audience. Not to mention the fact that new label mates probably
means lots of new potential guest musicians for the next album. As I-Town’s
mission statement says, "Traveling across the continent and around the
world, I-Town artists carry the music of the entire label, exporting a
message of mutual support. We believe in strengthening our connections with
one another. We believe in celebrating the richness of our community and in
promoting the diversity of its music, from ambient to dub to acoustic to
jazz to reggae to rock to twang to zydeco. Welcome to our town, I-Town."

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