Tijuana Bible
Super Rooster Records

The passion and intensity of a confident young artist bringing his vision to the world is an inspiring thing indeed. Dustin Welch is just that: a literate lyricist and songful shaman whose sophomore release, Tijuana Bible, finds him conjuring up a discerning collection of uniquely troubled characters, spellbinding melodies and rhythms, and fully-charged emotions. And like the protagonist of the propulsive “Jolly Johnny Junker,” a co-write with Mark Germino, Welch is “the type of man you gotta swallow by the bit.” For these are thoughtful, intricate and complex offerings that demand more than a casual consumption. And like the supposed Spanish scripture book in the title track, Welch’s songs are quite often so much more than they may initially seem to be. This is a “put-the-ear-buds-in-and-read-the-lyrics-along-with-the-song” kind of album. Welch’s expansive palette brings much spice and life to Tijuana Bible, from tangoesque to sea chanty-inspired. He goes well beyond the river and deep into those Springsteen-style Badlands on the vigorous “Across the Rubicon.” There’s a West African vibe co-mingling with Appalachian banjo on “Ash & Iron,” about a troubled soul coming to grips with his woeful life station, yet still attuned to signs of hope and relief (“I set the static dial on the radio and I hear my angels singing sweet and low.”)  Drawing from a line in Hamlet, Welch paints a wistful psalm about the lonely and lost on “Sparrows.” And he brings the full power of his punkish praise band (Jeremy Nail on lead guitar, Scotty Bucklin on keys, Trisha Keefer on violin, Steve Bernal on bass, and Eldridge Goins on percussion) to bear on “Goodbye,” a gripping and robust memorial to the bonds of eternal friendship. — D.C. BLOOM

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