When the only complaint one has about a project is, “I want more!”, it’s a very good sign. Everything about L.A.’s Dúo del Sol (Uruguayan violinist Javier Orman and Chicago guitarist Tom Farrell) is endearing, from their Kickstarter campaign (Coffee and Conversation! Romantic Serenade! Dinner with Dúo del Sol!) to their cover art (two musicians on a paper crane, oblivious to the shark in front of them) to the reason for their existence: the music.
Much of the material we cover at A Closer Listen is dark and downbeat. We love these sort of things – call us crazy, we do – but this should not imply that we lack joy in our hearts. Joy! Exuberance! Fiesta! Mirá is an album of happiness, an early summer arriving on the California breeze. Even when the album flirts with sadness, it’s easy to address: the sadness that the good wine is gone, that Javier will need to head to the market to find some more. Mirá celebrates life lives to its fullest. Why not hit the guitar while playing it? Why not clap? Why not spout onomatopoeia with gleeful abandon?
Listening to Dúo del Sol is like encountering the grown-up version of Antonio Banderas’ Puss in Boots, with a little bit of El Mariachi thrown in. This is seat of the pants playing, confident enough to take risks, knowing that it will land safely on its feet. One can imagine the duo serenading the wrong woman, then running through the streets, instruments strapped to their backs, pursued by a jealous boyfriend and a band of clumsy compatriots. Just as they seem cornered in a building, they climb to the roof, untie their instruments and begin to play. A crowd gathers below, applauding. The hoodlums slink away. Tom doffs his hat.
It’s hard to choose highlights. How does one choose between the ferocious bowing of “A Manu” and the Pachelbel intonations of “Pachamama”, the “ba-bo”s of the title track and the soaring finale of “Lights Out”? The only downside, as mentioned at the beginning, is that an EP is just not enough. We wish not only for more songs, but longer songs. What happens after the final tempo shift in “Pachamama”? Could we not have heard the chorus of “A Manu” one more time? After only eighteen and a half minutes, the good wine has run out. But when a young duo has this much energy, we can trust that their siesta will be a short one. (Richard Allen)