Amarillo Tapes – ‘Parts I & II’ Review

Posted: by Colin

Created over the entirety of a year, Amarillo Tapes are 22 low-fi songs written and performed by Carmen Cirignano, vocalist of Young Statues. The two part, hour-long journey is fueled by a delicate acoustic guitar, but is distinguished by its use of echoing and slumberous harmonicas, synths, keys, drums and electric guitars – which come and go as they please. The result is a hypnotic listen that forces one to question their role in this astonishingly massive universe each individual is a part of. 

These ponderings are not unproductive; they are profound, important and addressed on the project’s strongest tracks. When You Are The One is the fourth song in the collection, and is purposefully loud as Cirignano sings “Let down your hair, climb to a moon we can saddle…Have you forgiven? Have you been listening?” But feelings of solitude and delusion are continued throughout the album as it becomes increasingly melancholy. Cirignano whispers “The stranger I am in the grand scheme of things, a shadow play memory forgot in a dream” in Stare at the Sun. Whether it was intentional or not, the rhyming between the two songs’ titles is fitting as both overlap in theme. 

In the album’s final gasp for air, 08 is an assertive three-minute monologue highlighted by harmonica bursts. The track characterizes the built up frustrations that unanswered questions have presented throughout the collection of songs, “Where did you think it all would go? Has it all gone up in smoke? Will you ever know?” In perfect fashion, the album’s closer, Countyline, quickly becomes absorbed in its own ambiguity and chaos. The hour-long journey comes to crashing stop. 

Overall, the strongest quality of Amarillo Tapes is its ability to paint a nostalgic landscape in the listener’s mind. Its ability to conjure up memories that such events feel real and tactile, but are ultimately unavailable and cemented in the past. Such is the music, as the acoustic guitar and lyrics are close and visceral, but the engaging backing instruments end up far off. These same story-telling capabilities that bring rise to powerful emotions are also found in artists that Cirignano admires and has taken influence from, and subsequently covered on the record: David Bowie, Neil Young, and R.E.M. Similarly, just as these musicians have questioned what it means “to be” in the universe, Cirignano does so nearly flawlessly throughout Amarillo Tapes.