The Mystiqueros – “You’ve Got a Way”
Until recently, this act was known as Walt Wilkins & the Mystiqueros, as it featured Texas songwriter Wilkins a the front of the stage. For their latest album, Agave, the band billed itself as simply the Mystiqueros, which is a laudable show of solidarity by its frontman and a more appropriate moniker for the San Antonio group. While Wilkins is no doubt a talented songwriter with a knack for gracefully plainspoken lyrics, “You’ve Got a Way” makes clear that this is in fact a band effort, not a solo project with a backing band.
It’s a sturdy, groove-based song that chugs along with the pace of a freight train and a lusty energy that only hints at its ulterior motives. “Baby” Ray Rodiguez pushes the song forward on drums, rolling out a traintrack snare rhythm that keeps the other players on their toes. Wilkins and Johnny “Gringo” Greenberg trade off guitar solos, unraveling twangy variations on the melody. You can’t hear the song and not know right away it’s from Texas.
Wilkins’ lyrics are for all intents and purposes invisible, secondary to the song and primarily the framework for his vocal melody. But that’s not a slam, because he sings those words in a voice pitched somewhere between Freddy Fender and Robert Earl Keen, with the other players adding genial harmonies along the way. Nothing here is exactly innovative; there are no new combinations of styles or sounds, just a reconsideration of existing syntheses. On the other hand, the Mystiqueros exhibit a band dynamic that sounds rough and roadworn, born from not only an endless series of nightly shows in front of hard-to-impress audiences, but also from the long roadtrips in between. Sure, “You’ve Got a Way” probably sounds better live, but it sounds pretty good on record.
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