REAL PONCHOS IS NOT YOUR GRANDPARENT’S COUNTRY
By Mike Usinger
The first track on Since I Let You Go—appropriately titled “Intro”—operates as a heads-up that Real Ponchos is not your grandparents’ country. What you get is an ambient wash of ghostly noise that suggests someone’s sending an abandoned-space-station transmission. From there, though, anyone with adventurous tastes in Americana will find lots to thrill to on this 11-track full-length.
Wasting no time in getting long-time shitkickers onboard, Real Ponchos salts the opening lines to “Aged Oak” with references to bottles of bourbon, cocaine, and the kind of 4:45 a.m. revelations that make substance abuse so wonderful. (How fucking great is the line “I’d trade 50 new songs for 50 hangovers”?)
Eventually it’s a tossup as to what’s most impressive. Let’s start with Real Ponchos’ singers Ben Arsenault and Emile Scott being based in rainy old Lotusland but sounding like grizzled Texas vets raised on hardtack and beef jerky. As gorgeous and effortless as the guitar work is on songs such as “It’s Gonna Happen”, the honey-kissed harmonies are somehow even more memorable. Hell, Real Ponchos even bridges vintage lounge and windswept country without sounding hokey, that being the case with the harmonica-laced instrumental “Fistful of Beans”.
By the time you dive into the whisky-smoked “Deep Dark Pool”, you’ll be hooked, especially if your iPod includes everything ever recorded by the Gun Club, Waylon Jennings, the Sadies, Johnny Cash, Gram Parsons, and, well, anyone else famous for pushing country forward while respecting its past. Oh, and your grandparents will probably like it too, assuming, of course, they’ve got taste, something that Real Ponchos have in aces and spades.