Water to Wine’s “A Señorita, A Sweet Tea and A Few Good Songs” LP 

With riffs as heavy as they are harmonious with the sizzling lead vocal at the forefront of the master mix, Water to Wine’s eponymous song in their debut album A Señorita, A Sweet Tea and A Few Good Songs is every bit the statement of self its title would suggest it is. A little bit country and a whole lot of rock n’ roll, Water to Wine invokes elements of Roses & Cigarettes, Little Big Town, and W.C. Beck in A Señorita, A Sweet Tea and A Few Good Songs while firmly establishing themselves as an act that doesn’t care much for the conventionalities a lot of their contemporaries would just as soon be designing an entire discography around.

Tracks like the string-born “We’re Gonna Have a Big Time” and “That’s What I’m Talkin’ About” are deceptively Nashville-friendly through their simple melodic trappings, but when measured in volume and tonal punch, these tracks have as much of a rock aesthetic influencing their bones as they do anything from the history of modern country music. Americana is the artistic component that binds everything together in this record, be it the progressive flow of “Water to Wine” or its gentle acoustic rock prelude in “What Kind of Fool,” and to me, this is exactly the way it was always meant to be enjoyed.

I was surprised to learn that A Señorita, A Sweet Tea and A Few Good Songs was the first record this group has recorded together primarily because of how well they play off of each other’s cues in songs like “Good Time’n” and the more instrumentally-heavy “It’s All Good.” They’re covering a lot of ground here, between the big riffs and the even bigger vocal harmonies that frame the lyrics in the former of the aforementioned pair of tracks, but they don’t sound like they’re searching for some sort of linchpin to connect all of this material together – these players are the glue in their sound. Instrumental vibrancy is one of their greatest weapons in A Señorita, A Sweet Tea and A Few Good Songs, and I don’t know that tracks like the 12-string-fitted “Hero” or bluesy “Chillin’ with Me” would have the kind of sonic weight they do in another scenario. Production quality is something that definitely matters to Water to Wine, but I get the impression they’re not so hung up on intricacies that they forget the real goal here, which is getting people into the sway of these grooves regardless of the speed the players dealing them at.

There have been a handful of intriguing debuts out of the American underground in the past few months, but for those of the country/rock persuasion, I don’t think you can go wrong with what A Señorita, A Sweet Tea and A Few Good Songs is made of. Water to Wine develops a signature style inside of these ten songs that, although still having some room for evolvement and growth, is a pretty solid lock if you’re into pastoral harmonies as much as I am. Americana has been taking on many different forms in 2022, and out of the few that have had a slightly puritan influence on their concepts, Water to Wine’s take is by far one of my very favorites.

Michael Rand

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