by Jimmy Sears

Latin and country are supposedly two very different genres, but that didn’t stop Sammy Arriaga from releasing his EP, “Meet in the Middle,” which combines both genres. While one would be skeptical, when I looked at “Meet in the Middle’s” genre, I was pleasantly surprised. Though Arriaga doesn’t bend his genre too much to where the country label is moot, it pushes the envelope to where, while it is a different sounding country album, it still maintains that distinctive flare. One could probably call this “alternative country” because of its infusion of Latin rhythms and country. Seven years went into the making of this album, and with the amount of time and effort put into the EP’s six tracks, one can only expect a sauntering wind of patterns that could freshen the air in the countryside.

“Meet in the Middle” begins with “Santana,” which quickly seeps in with an airy moisture that turns into an oasis. The drums have a slower beat while the guitars have a shuffle that’s red hot. The drums also have a laid-back pitch that makes for an excellent combination. The next track, “Tell ‘Em Why,” is opposite to “Santana.” Light, breezy and pacifying, the piano serves as the centerpiece and brings it down a tone for a sweet-sounding trail despite the theme of blame, with Arriaga accusing his girl of lies. A highlight for the EP is “Banjos and Bongos,” which, while a banjo and bongo are probably un unlikely couple to create a song (Much like Latin and country), both make for a clever usage that expresses a comradery despite the province-wide distance between Arriaga and his girl to create what is possibly the most fun track on the EP, not to discredit the other tracks. That being said, Arriaga successfully combines Latin and country for an all-around fun EP.