Issue April 7, 2010

San Patricio

The Chieftains feat. Ry Cooder
HEAR MUSIC

You may have doubts about the merits of this album long before the bagpipes started the Mexican Hat Dance. However, this earns its place as a unique artifact for history buffs as well as those who like international musical adventures. Chief Chieftain Paddy Moloney recruited guitarist/producer Cooder to help explore the regional song styles and lead appropriate musical folklorists in a concept suite about a fascinating, near-forgotten story. During the Mexican-American War, a battalion of conscripted Irish-American soldiers decided that the war was unfair, and they changed sides. Historians still debate whether the San Patricios were taking a stand against land-grabbing injustice — there’s evidence of less-noble motivations, and the American government quickly made the whole episode hush-hush. But Mexican citizens embraced the sacrifice of these men, and Moloney employs his group’s legendary collaborative facility to create a tribute that fluidly fuses Latin and Celtic sounds. Linda Ronstadt and Liam Neeson lend some star power, but it’s the many Mexican musicians who lend the set enduring shine.