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Review of "Songs from the Sod" from Fort Worth Weekly - Sep. 2007

Songs from the Sod, the second album from Fort Worth’s PrinceRodriguez, is a mostly enjoyable country-blues-rock romp with a bit of gypsy outlaw in its blood. When Jeff Prince and Phillip Rodriguez have fun here — musically or lyrically — it’s easy to enjoy their work. When they take their material too seriously, they tend to edge toward production clichés rather than letting everything flow naturally.

Prince’s “Call Me an Artist” is an appealing, playful country song that declares, “You oughta call me an artist the way I’m paintin’ this town.” Their co-written, vaguely bluegrass “Big River” begins with a child’s memory of watching a river “take away everything that [he] had” and then ties it to the man’s life. The chorus urges, “Big river, keep rolling along / Take my heart, take my soul, take my mind / Down to the Gulf of Mexico.”

The only one of the 10 songs they didn’t write is Jim Cleveland’s “Raining in New Orleans,” which could have, topically, been about Katrina. Instead, it’s just raining while a man figures out where his life went wrong.

The only quibble is that Prince and Rodriguez add slightly intrusive background vocals in otherwise perfect places or a little too much accordion or guitar here or there. While production values are always, or should be, personal choices, it’s easy to forget — in an age of excess — that less can mean more.

Prince, who writes for Fort Worth Weekly, plays lead guitar, Rodriguez plays guitar and mandolin, and they share lead vocals. Songs of the Sod seems to be a work of passion that would be even better with more restraint in the studio.

- Tom Geddie


Online radio program Americana Homeplace recently began working into its musical rotation the PrinceRodriguez song "Angelina Lumber," the closing number on Ballad of Pedro Nix. Also, Americana Homeplace included an album review, giving three stars (out of a possible five) to PrinceRodriguez' debut album. Not bad, considering the same reviewer gave only three stars to the most recent albums by Bob Dylan (Modern Times), Johnny Cash (American V), and Van Morrison (Pay The Devil).

That's company we're proud to keep. Here's the short review as it appears at www.americanahomeplace.com

Ballad of Pedro Nix review from Americana HomePlace - Sep. 2006

Reload Records (Released October 31, 2004) Americana Homeplace Rating *Ballad of Pedro Nix* is the debut effort from Texas-based performers Jeff Prince and Phillip Rodriguez. Going under the name PrinceRodriguez, the duo's debut release is a concept album which tells the story of Pedro Nix - a Texan whose travels and travails form a compelling tale of love, life, adventure and tragedy. Mixing country, folk and Latino influences, the result is a unique and poignant musical narrative.


Hey Love! review From Hanx.net - Mar. 2006

Webmaster's note: The following review was originally written in the Dutch language, we have done our best to accurately translate it, but some things might've been missed in translation.  By golly, we tried our best.  The original Dutch review is below the translated one.

Jeff Prince hails from Texas, and on Hey Love! you can actually feel the wind and sand blowing in your face. Prince is a natural-born storyteller with a vocal style somewhere between Ray Wylie Hubbard and Butch Hancock, a delivery that's a natural fit with these songs.  And these songs are all about love. For instance, on "I Walked 10 Miles" a man walks through the pouring rain to be with his love, gets married and fathers a child, only to become a widower in time. Hardly an original story but Prince hits the target well. Most of the numbers on the CD don't really compare in style to other regional "Texas-sounding" artists, but if want to hear the sweeter side of Texas, check out 'Hey Love!' on www.princerodriguez.com.  - (Patrick Donders)

Jeff Prince komt uit Texas en dat kun je horen. Op Hey Love ! voel je de wind het zand op je gezicht blazen. Prince is een verhalenverteller met een stem die het midden houdt tussen die van Ray Wylie Hubbard en die van Butch Hancock. Dat houdt automatisch in dat de focus op de teksten ligt. En die gaan over de liefde. I Walked 10 Miles door de regen om bij jou te zijn, met je te trouwen, samen een kind te krijgen, weduwnaar te worden en door te draaien. Een niet zo bijster origineel verhaal maar Prince schiet wel raak. De meeste nummers op dit solodebuut zijn echter te licht en kunnen de concurrentie met de liedjes van de bekendere streekgenoten niet aan maar de liefhebber van het wat zoetere Texas moet eens gaan kijken op www.princerodriguez.com .(Patrick Donders)
 


Hey Love! review From Fort Worth Weekly - Jan. 2006

Jeff Prince is half of the PrinceRodriguez duo that’s been mixing originals and covers, rock, country, blues, and soul around the Fort Worth area for about 20 years and released its debut c.d. recently. On the sincere, low-budget Hey Love!, the singer-songwriter and guitarist does his own thing.  Prince wrote seven of the 10 songs and co-wrote the other three. His catchy, inspired songcraft nicely complements his often unabashedly florid poetic lyrics — familiar images of champagne and roses, rain on windows, and burning candles.

The album is sort of conceptual in its various explorations of love — of the familial, romantic, and fraternal kind. On the opener, the title track, Prince observes a magic night in which a couple eventually waltzes and tangos “in sheets all a-tangle.” The c.d. begins to reach its high point a little more than halfway through when “On the Highway” Prince finds himself a thousand miles from home and his love. A straightforward road song, it’s followed by the dramatic, revenge-filled “Rage” and then “Higher Walls,” a smooth ballad about reluctantly falling in love again. On the bouncy c.d.-closer, “Last Call,” Prince and producer James Michael Taylor find themselves in a bar ordering another round.

Prince’s singing begins somewhat toward the high end of the register, and, like the music veteran he is, he knows his limitations — he seldom ventures beyond his range. The instrumentation is thin and minimal but well-orchestrated and performed: Prince plays acoustic and electric guitars and electric bass, while producer Taylor adds background vocals, viola, squeeze box, and whatever other sounds come along. The adroit studio mixes bring a little more moody fullness to the project. For the sparse, limited-bucks production that it is, Hey Love! delivers.


By Americana UK - Apr 2005

PrinceRodriguez “Ballad of Pedro Nix” (Reload Record Company 2004) PrinceRodriguez are Jeff Prince and Phillip Rodriguez from Fort Worth Texas, the duo have been playing together for more than 20 years. They describe themselves as 'Country rock gospel folk crap - but good!'.  Despite their vintage 'Ballad of Pedro Nix' is their first full release.  A concept record, this is the story of the son of white Texan man and a Mexican woman, and an eventful story it is with hard times, drugs, manhunts, murder, lost love and everything in between. The style of the songs is somewhere in between the Band and Gordon Lightfoot, pleasant enough in a timeless American style, but lacking anything close to a spark to drag the listener in to caring about what happens to the protagonist Pedro. Its a worthy enough effort, but in need of more flavour. PW 5 out of 10.

 


By RootsTime - Mar. 2005

Note: The following is a rough translation of a review originally written in Dutch.  The original review is at the bottom of this translation.  We can't guarantee it's total accuracy.  Hey, it looked like he liked it!   If anyone can provide us a better translation of the original review, please let us know!

Translated:

Jeff Prince and Philip Rodriguez have more than three years invested in this album. It is a beautiful album because you get so much more than just twelve arbitrary theme-related songs. Rather, both of these Texas artists wrote a real soundtrack. A story that in and of itself mainly plays in the border area of Mexico and the life story tellings of Billy Nix; who married the fifteen-year-old Consuela and dealt with the harsh life of harvesting vegetables. That itself isn't so far out-of-hand, but with the birth of their son Pedro and daughter Lolita, the real story of this album bursts out. Love, hatred, drinking, intrigues, false accusations, murder and suicide, emotional dramas, failed marriages and other hard times. Indeed, a film scenario strengthens, and for the ladies: have the handkerchiefs ready. This entire compilation of mix of country, rock, gospel, folk, cajun, latino, mexicana and Americana songs. Both are excellent singer/songwriters and play excellent guitar. Along with Mexican the background and atmosphere are instruments such as a stalk guitar, piano, organ, violins, saxophone and naturally the extensive percussion. Moreover there are the beautiful backingvocals of Sharon Oefinger. Mastering for this album was done by Phil York which captures the essence of what the pair did good in the studio. York's experience of working with the likes of Willie Nelson (Engineer for Red Headed Stranger - 1975) seems to be fully utilixed here. With this album, you can also hear the likes of (Hank) Williams and David Allan along with the poetry of Leonard Cohen and the story count of Tom Russel and Woodie Guthrie. In closing, I think even the hum of "Van the Man" can be heard here.  Prince & Rodriguez have known each other since the 80's and realize that this, their first big project needed to be a real statement: "We're like the Lone Ranger." Rodriguez said.  "We come out of nowhere, play our music, and then ride off in a cloud of dust, leaving people saying: ‘Who were those two guys, and why did they have to stir up so much dust when they left?’ After a recent gig, they sat down over beers to explain why they decided to promote their burn of Texas roots music after 20 years of obscurity. "Anonymity has its perks, such as people not knowing our names.” Prince said. “However, we’re ready to take the business more seriously now, if only to increase our chances of getting laid.” Go boys! (SWA)

Original Dutch review:

Jeff Prince en Philip Rodriguez hebben er meer dan drie jaren overgedaan om dit album op te nemen. Het is dan ook een prachtig album geworden dat veel meer inhoud heeft dan de
gebruikelijke twaalf songs die willekeurige thema's aansnijden. Neen, beide Texana artiesten hebben een heuse soundtrack neergeschreven. Een verhaal dat zich voornamelijk
afspeelt in het grensgebied van Mexico en de levensloop schetst van Billy Nix die trouwde met de vijftienjarige Consuela en de kost verdiende met het telen van groenten. Tot
zover niets speciaals aan de hand, maar met de geboorte van hun zoon Pedro en dochter Lolita kan het verhaal van dit conceptalbum losbarsten. Liefde, haat, drank, intriges,
valse beschuldigingen, moord en zelfmoord, klopjachten, emotionele drama's, mislukte huwelijken en eind goed niets goed. Voorwaar een sterk filmscenario en voor de dames onder
ons : houd de zakdoeken maar klaar. Dit alles in een mix van country, rock, gospel, folk, cajun, latino, mexicana en Americana songs. Beide heren zijn uitstekende
singer/songwriters en spelen uitmuntend gitaar. Tegen die Mexicaans achtergrond en sfeerbeelden ontbreken instrumenten als steel guitar, piano, orgel, violen, saxophone en
natuurlijk de uitgebreide percussie niet. Bovendien zijn er de mooie backingvocals van Sharon Oefinger. Heel belanrijk voor dit album was Phil York die alles in goede banen
leidde in de studio's.De man kon zijn ervaring van het werken met Willie Nelson (was er reeds bij in 1975 bij het masteren van de klassieker "Red Head Stranger") ten volle
benutten. Je kan er wat van Hank Williams, David Allan Coe, het poetische van Leonard Cohen en de storytelling van Tom Russel, Woodie Guthrie in terugvinden. Af en toe denk ik
zelfs het gebrom van "Van the Man" erin te horen. Beide heren kennen mekaar al sinds de jaren '80 en beseffen dat dit hun grote doorbraak wel eens kon zijn : "We’re like the
Lone Ranger" Rodriguez said. “We come out of nowhere, play our music, and then ride off in a cloud of dust, leaving people saying: ‘Who were those two guys, and why did they
have to stir up so much dust when they left?’ After their recent gig, they sat down over beers to explain why they've decided to promote their brand of Texas roots music after
20 years of obscurity." Anonymity has its perks, such as people not knowing our names, ”Prince said. “However, we’re ready to take the business more seriously now, if only to
increase my chances of getting laid.” Houden zo jongens !! (SWA)


By Mike Price of the Fort Worth Business Press - excerpt from Nov. 26, 2004 article

...a singer-songwriter duo known as PrinceRodriguez has surfaced with a narrative suite, The Ballad of Pedro Nix, that has merited release as a self-contained CD album on the Reload label.

PrinceRodriguez (in waking life, Fort Worth Weekly's Jeff Prince and Azle-based spice merchant Phillip Rodriguez) characterizes its Ballad of Pedro Nix as “a conceptual album.” Its storytelling thread derives from the troubled life of Mexican-born Pedro Nix, son of a Parker County melon farmer and a fruit-picker's daughter. Whether the tale is one of scrupulous factuality, or of simple, emblematic truth-telling, is entirely up to the absorbed listener to decide.

The song cycle tracks Pedro's progress from a well-nurtured, however impoverished, childhood to an orphaned state - and from there, to an existence as a wandering laborer and small-time entertainer. Two snakebit marriages and a span of alcoholism threaten to wreck the guy, but the memory of his father's insistence that “we're not supposed to stay down” sustains Pedro.

That frank synopsis scarcely does justice to the splendid musicianship of guitarists-vocalists Prince & Rodriguez, or to the lyrical inventions with which they relate the benchmarks in this thoroughly American life. The songs and arrangements recall the friendly-but-confrontational directness of Woody Guthrie, though with a broader range of instrumental voices (including steel guitar passages from Gene Scott and the dark richness of Nancy Kamm's violin) and stylistic influences.

The basic sound is an appealing combination of traditional country music and Latinate rhythms and harmonic lines, layered with gospel and R&B influences and, during a sojourn in the bayou backwaters for Pedro Nix, a Cajun sensibility. Certain of the tunes would be right at home on a Stockyards-area jukebox. Others convey, here, a harrowing loneliness and, there, the joy of some down-home barn dance or dinner-on-the-ground songfest.

Production values strike a decisive balance between folk-music sensibilities and commercial tunesmithery, and the audio-mastering skill of Phil York is of decided benefit. York is a towering figure in the larger history of the music industry, and his ear for the PrinceRodriguez material is as simpatico as that which he had applied to Willie Nelson's Red-Headed Stranger album some 30 years ago. 

Prince & Rodriguez bring to the hard-bitten story of Pedro Nix a leavening sense of humor and a defiant bravado that render even the grimmer moments hopeful. The artists have “had a blast, writing and playing music, for years,” as Prince tells it, “but we never got around to recording, touring, marketing, or any of that stuff.”

Their focused collaboration on The Ballad of Pedro Nix, in synch with a record label devoted to broadening a popular awareness of home-grown Texas music, suggests that all those years of “having a blast” have added up to one essential CD.

The Ballad of Pedro Nix can be found at Record Town in Fort Worth. On the Web: www.reloadrecordcompany.com
and www.princerodriguez.com.


By Maurice Thomas of the Fort Worth Weekly - Nov. 2004

Whether Pedro Nix actually existed, as claimed by PrinceRodriguez (a.k.a. Jeff Prince and Phillip Rodriguez), or whether he is fiction, his life was filled with storybook adventure: growing up on a farm, death and overwhelming grief, wanderlust, drink and drunkenness, Mexican excursions, visions, horse burgers, sobriety, infidelity, going home again to settle down, and living a long, seemingly successful but ultimately unfulfilled life.

But whether or not we believe Nix lived doesn’t matter. It’s important to these two Fort Worth natives, who’ve been playing together since the mid-1980s and have now composed Ballad of Pedro Nix, a “serious, true-to-life concept album” about the titular character, an alleged longtime Parker County resident. And like Nix, PrinceRodriguez is similarly enigmatic. “We’re like the Lone Ranger,” says Rodriguez. “We come out of nowhere, play our music, and then ride off in a cloud of dust, leaving people saying, ‘Who were those two guys, and why did they have to stir up so much dust when they left?’”

The music reflects this mysterious vibe. A blend of honkytonk, Mexican folk, C&W, blues, soul, and Texas Music-ish singer-songwriter stuff, Ballad of Pedro Nix is familiar in its pieces and well executed. The traditional arrangement of guitar, bass, and drums is supplemented with bits, here and there, of harmonica, keyboards, steel guitar, fiddles, and sax. The occasional Mexican-flavored interludes are intriguing enough to haunt. The writing, by both Rodriguez and Prince, covers a lot of ground — a whole life — in a mere dozen songs, and it’s deft and literate. The singing, however, appears to be simply a vehicle for the narrative lyrics, nothing more.

Highlights? Maybe “Lasso the Moon” about the futility of dreams; “Tierra Mia,” about escape; or the simple love song “Te Quiero, Bonita, Te Amo.” These three tracks are moving enough, even without the added kick that “true-to-life” tales bring.


 

 

 

 

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