Mando Saenz has made a career out of watching people, haunting places, and asking questions. Studebaker, his third studio album, is a snapshot of an artist who has grown not only comfortable, but also confident in who he is and the value of what he has to say. Recorded in sessions that began late last fall and spilled over into early 2013, Studebaker is a 12-song deep trek, the longest of any of Saenz’s albums thus far, propelled by his self-deprecating wit, careful observation, and empathetic ability to make heroes out of outcasts.
He chose a move to Houston over Austin because his brother set up a studio in the former. There, he was exposed to another world. “It was a good time to be a musician in Houston. A lot of us, like Hayes Carll and John Evans, were there together. I was in inner city Houston, and it was just so cool—huge and unlike anywhere I’d ever been.”
The pace, faces, sticky beauty, and musical camaraderie of Houston stayed with Saenz. And while Nashville has surely offered plenty of inspiration, characters and experiences from Corpus Christi and Houston take their turns on Studebaker as well.
Dabbling in pointed folk, hushed pop, honky tonk, and rock-and-roll, Studebaker combines the acoustic pensiveness of 2005’s Watertown and the full-bodied bravado of 2008’s Bucket. Saenz’s tenor, which has always been arresting, has assumed a full, rich timbre that can still deliver lines delicately, but can also howl like a freight train.
Little Brother Music represents licensing for Saenz on Studebaker.
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