Che Apalache is a decidedly different entity. Primarily South American musicians, they play a mix of bolero and gypsy style with traditional bluegrass, resulting in a unique hybrid that defies an exact definition.
Of course, any time there's an adventurous entity of any consequence, opinion is sharply divided. While many listeners will applaud their adventurous attitude, others may find it confounding. Purists may find akin to the heretical. Clearly, Che Apalache was willing to take the risk.
Over. the course of the dozen songs in the set, they veer from style to style, rarely making any attempt to find common ground. Several songs are sung entirely in Spanish ("Maria," "Demarzo," "Dia Fe La Memoria," "La Milonga," "Del Cuis Empedernido") and convey a distinct south of the border feel, while other songs share the sounds of the heartland literally without missing a beat.
That fearless attitude is conveyed in attitude as well as aptitude. The most striking example is the aptly titled "The Wall," a folksy ramble in which they declare, "There's all kinds of talk about building the wall on the southern border. If that does come, we'll have to knock it down." Woody Guthrie and Pete Seeger would be proud.
Indeed, there's a feeling of defiance echoing through the album overall, a willingness to break down any barriers and defy genre as necessary. Given the divide and division so rife in the nation and the world today, Che Apalache's courage and conviction deserve all the kudos their listeners might muster.
Lee Zimmerman is a freelance writer and author based in Maryville, Tenn. He also expounds on music on his web site, Stories Beyond the Music - Americana Music Reviews, Interviews & Articles. His book, Americana Music - Voices, Visionaries and Pioneers of an Honest Sound, is available from Texas A&M University Publishing.