Campo Bravo, Goodbye, Oklahoma

Campo Bravo, Goodbye, Oklahoma

Though songwriter Mark Matos was raised in central California, he now resides in San Francisco, and in between, he seems to have stopped in Tucson to make Goodbye, Oklahoma. His vehicle Campo Bravo owes debts to Calexico, in that it has a vaguely southwestern feel, and the Dirty Three, in that it’s sometimes slow and noodly and sometimes employs a violin. This is particularly true of “Magic Carpet,” a Zenonian dirge that subjects the listener to the exquisite torture of being put to sleep so slowly as to never actually reach oblivion. Campo Bravo’s musicians are competent enough, in particular violinist Lady Vickie Brown, who provides the sole point of reference for the aforementioned “Carpet,” but Matos’s voice is barely sufficient and completely without distinction, as demonstrated, respectively, by his inability to hit a single note of “She Is You” consistently and the fact that it is impossible to say whether Matos is writing beyond his ability or is simply too lazy to sing in tune.

His lyrics fare no better; though they graciously avoid cliché, they also manage to avoid being interesting, settling mostly for just being there, except when they insist on being repeated to the point of meaninglessness, as does the line “heading towards a collision course,” (“Collision Course”) whose failure of diction would be much less frustrating if it was not so prominent. These failings could be forgiven if his music was not so enervatingly generic, but the most damning criticism of Goodbye, Oklahoma is that Matos has pursued a misguided commitment to a Southwestern musical idiom and mood to which he has no real connection, not to mention a songwriting tradition of which he has no real understanding.

(KEEP Recordings -- P.O. Box 18972, Tucson, AZ. 85731; http://www.keeprecordings.com/; Campo Bravo -- http://www.myspace.com/campobravo)
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Review by . Review posted Tuesday, July 3rd, 2007. Filed under Reviews.

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