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ALBUM REVIEW: "Sweet Desire" by Lexi Cardenas and The Bleached Roses

Photo courtesy Lexi Cardenas and the Bleached Roses
The cover of "Sweet Desire," released in July 2017.
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ALBUM REVIEW: Sweet Desire by Lexi and The Bleached Roses (independent) 2017

Here at my office, if you’ve had a CD for only two months and it’s already skipping because of dirt, grime and fingerprint oils are smeared on it, you know it’s been loved. Kind of like that dogeared book with the notes and scribbles in the margin, the one with the cracked spine and coffee cup stains on the cover.

Well, my copy of Sweet Desire may not be that thoroughly “loved,” but it has certainly been receiving a lot of airplay here in the offices of Red Dirt Report.

In fact, it was here in the offices of Red Dirt Report where I first met the classically-trained violinist Lexi Cardenas, who, at the time, was playing fiddle for the Austin, Texas-based indie-rock band Messages, who were coming through Oklahoma on a summer tour.

As the four-piece group played an acoustic set in our office library, I was struck by the power and passion coming from Cardenas’s strings and voice. Plus, she had a great sense of humor and genuine warmth – the sort you sense from musicians who truly love their craft. After all, she’s been playing violin since she was a child.

When I interviewed the band, Cardenas, a native of El Paso, said that while she cites everyone from Iszhak Perlman to Mark O’Connor as influences, it was the band Yellowcard, and their use of a violin on one of their songs that made her realize the violin could be considered “cool.”

Lexi Cardenas leads The Bleached Roses. (Photo provided)

Well, two summers later, and the bilingual Cardenas is back (with Messages presumably “on hold”) with a new musical project where she is the frontwoman and violin player for The Bleached Roses, which is primarily her and cellist Mario Salas, along with side musicians, including a drummer for live performances.

The plucked strings and moody tone on “Interlude” give one the feeling that you are hearing atmospheric-but-rootsy soundtrack music on a Lasse Hallström film.  But then that goes right into the spare power of “Not Your Girl.”

“Reprise” follows the feel of “Interlude” with acoustic guitar utilized on the subtle beauty of “Waiting.”

But it’s the midtempo title track that really holds my attention on Cardenas’s debut LP. It's a desire that comes from a very deep place for Cardenas. 

Concluding Sweet Desire is "Emerald Heart," with its aching build-up and release, giving the listener a true sense of the talent coming from the woman holding the violin and singing (and writing) these songs.

Cardenas, as she told Red Dirt Report in a September 2015 interview, is passionate about introducing musical instruments to young people on Austin’s east side – particularly at-risk kids - so they can learn to play a musical instrument. It’s calle the Sarinda Project.

Lexi Cardenas and The Bleached Roses are based in Austin, Texas. (Red Dirt Report file photo)

Talking to Red Dirt Report’s Rachael LeValley at the time, this activist-at-heart said of the Sarinda Project: “I don’t want the music project to be just a class the kids come to once a week. I want to build a community of musicians and I want to have concerts and get the community involved to see what we could build together.”

With Cardenas's clear devotion to her music and the personal message that it offers to her and her listeners, I think Sweet Desire is just the beginning of what will continue to be an amazing musical career for Lexi Cardenas.

Currently, Lexi and The Bleached Roses are on a fall tour of Texas and Louisiana, beginning tonight at the Lemon Lounge in Austin and concluding on Nov. 14 at Austin’s Cheer Up Charlie’s.

For more information, go to bleachedroses.com.

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Andrew W. Griffin

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Andrew W. Griffin received his Bachelor of Science in Journalism from...

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About Red Dirt Report

Red Dirt Report was launched July 4, 2007 as an independent news website covering all manner of news, culture, entertainment and lifestyle stories that affect and interest Oklahoma readers and readers outside of our state. Our mission is to educate, promote civic engagement and discourse on public policy, government and politics. Our experienced journalists provided balanced in-depth coverage of news stories that affect Oklahomans. Our opinion/editorial stories come from a wide range of political view points. We carry out our mission by reporting, writing, and posting news and information. read more

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