Listen Up: Wednesday, December 15, 2004
A D V E R T I S E M E N T
A D V E R T I S E M E N T
PrinceRodriguez

Ballad of Pedro Nix (Reload Records)

By Maurice Thomas

Whether Pedro Nix actually existed, as claimed by PrinceRodriguez (a.k.a. Jeff Prince and Phillip Rodriguez), or whether he is fiction, his life was filled with storybook adventure: growing up on a farm, death and overwhelming grief, wanderlust, drink and drunkenness, Mexican excursions, visions, horse burgers, sobriety, infidelity, going home again to settle down, and living a long, seemingly successful but ultimately unfulfilled life.

But whether or not we believe Nix lived doesn’t matter. It’s important to these two Fort Worth natives, who’ve been playing together since the mid-1980s and have now composed Ballad of Pedro Nix, a “serious, true-to-life concept album” about the titular character, an alleged longtime Parker County resident. And like Nix, PrinceRodriguez is similarly enigmatic. “We’re like the Lone Ranger,” says Rodriguez. “We come out of nowhere, play our music, and then ride off in a cloud of dust, leaving people saying, ‘Who were those two guys, and why did they have to stir up so much dust when they left?’”

The music reflects this mysterious vibe. A blend of honkytonk, Mexican folk, C&W, blues, soul, and Texas Music-ish singer-songwriter stuff, Ballad of Pedro Nix is familiar in its pieces and well executed. The traditional arrangement of guitar, bass, and drums is supplemented with bits, here and there, of harmonica, keyboards, steel guitar, fiddles, and sax. The occasional Mexican-flavored interludes are intriguing enough to haunt. The writing, by both Rodriguez and Prince, covers a lot of ground — a whole life — in a mere dozen songs, and it’s deft and literate. The singing, however, appears to be simply a vehicle for the narrative lyrics, nothing more.

Highlights? Maybe “Lasso the Moon” about the futility of dreams; “Tierra Mia,” about escape; or the simple love song “Te Quiero, Bonita, Te Amo.” These three tracks are moving enough, even without the added kick that “true-to-life” tales bring.

— Maurice Thomas

Editor’s note: Because Jeff Prince is a Fort Worth Weekly staff writer, we assigned the review of his album to an out-of-town critic.


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