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.”
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.