When people ask me what California is like, I tend to not answer because it’s a very big answer. I usually just change the topic to movies about Los Angeles and leave it at that. It’s not just one thing California.
But California is a mystical and odd place. This is why I love it so. It’s not just a place that holds Los Angeles’ hair while it vomits out one overly produced movie franchise after another. It’s not a grand pathway for San Francisco. It’s a whole lot of magical cities, corners, lakes, rivers and underground spots filled with tales and lies we can’t live without.
Few people have been able to capture it well. Writers have ripped California a new asshole, artists have championed or damned it, depending on how well their work is selling. It’s a fresh start, a cemetery of dreams, a crusher of souls, a place to do things you couldn’t do back home because out here, it’s all possible, until it isn’t. And when you win, you always wait for the other shoe to drop. Because it does. And what a glorious fall that is.
The journey is the thing in California. It’s the only thing. No one wants the third act to begin because then, it’ll all be over soon.
This is my take anyway.
And the music of Orange County trio Echo Sparks somehow manages to capture this wild, wandering, lonely, exasperated landscape of this strange ass place. Their latest record Ghost Town Girl could very well be the soundtrack to traversing the cracked highways and oil stained streets of a place you just can’t get, until you get it.
DA Valdez created Echo Sparks out of a need to express this amalgam of sounds. From folk to rockabilly to old Mexico, you’ll take a journey with each track from Ghost Town Girl. Silver mines, late night gambling, lonely beach side highways…the images Echo Sparks conjures up from the desert and the mountains are enjoyably spooky.
CC Kinnick and Cindy Ballreich blend perfectly with Valdez’s vision of a place where Gram Parsons’ ghost is happy to show up between the bars as they rumble down a rutted road toward a chicken shack.
For me the title track “Ghost Town Girl” captures the essence of what this band is all about, haunted by melody, full of eerie promise with a kind of war chant in the way Valdez and Kinnick handle the vocals.
Another stand out for me is “Broken Arrow.” I like the clean jangle of this tune. Its approach is easy but the lyrics are heavy. If only all heartbreaks sounded this pretty.
Ghost Town Girl closes out with “I Think It’s You” and it sounds a tench like an Emmylou Harris road tune. Very lovely. Very lovely.
So as you’re planning your next road trip, I’d snap up/download a copy of Echo Sparks’ Ghost Town Girl. Get haunted all the way up PCH.
Ghost Town Girl Tracklisting:
1. Broken Arrow • 4:26
2. Rolling 60’s • 4:25
3. End of the Line • 3:40
4. Princess of Fresno • 3:50
5. Mexican Moon • 3:34
6. Small Change • 3:20
7. Shallow Water • 4:00
8. Ghost Town Girl • 3:25
9. Torch Song • 3:46
10. I Think It’s You • 4:25
Echo Sparks Members/Instruments:
CC Kinnick • Vocals, guitars
DA Valdez • Vocals, guitars, banjo, drums
Cindy Ballreich • Upright Bass, mandolin
Ghost Town Girl Production:
Produced by Echo Sparks
Engineered by Walter Clevenger
Recorded and mixed at Brewery Records Studio, Costa Mesa, CA
Mastered by Jerry Tubb at Terra Nova Digital Audio, Austin, TX
Styles: A mashup of folk, rockabilly, old Mexico, blues and 1930s jazz
“Diosa Del Mar”