Label: Azra Records
Released: September 11, 2007
I’ll make no secret that songs of hopelessness and despair that have no sense of redemption or salvation have an uphill battle to resonate with me. That’s not to say that none do, just that it’s harder for them, because they run against the grain of my soul. Mad Juana’s Acoustic Voodoo is a dark record and runs counter to my nature almost throughout. It’s also excellent.
The record is dark and mysterious and downright witchy. It draws heavily on Celtic, Eastern European and even Middle Eastern folk traditions. “Ecstasy” incorporates African jazz and “Steel Will” mixes blues and burlesque with a mantra-like chorus. Their cover of the Velvet Underground’s “Venus in Furs” nails the song’s sense of worldly depravity. Mad Juana manages to jump around without losing focus, because they maintain their thematic darkness which is more than anything maintained by Karmen Guy’s voice. It is at times rich, full, breathy and sensual and always, with one exception, the comparatively uplifting “Ecstasy,” vaguely tortured.
Featuring Sami Yaffa of Hanoi Rocks and now New York Dolls fame, one might expect a rock record, so Mad Juana requires a shift. However, despite influences and instrumentation that makes it non-rock, Acoustic Voodoo is very much a rock record. Better yet, it has soul which gives it an underlying hope, even in despair.
If you’re curious about my rating categories, read the description.