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Familiar, but in a new way

Underground Whispers
Underground Whispers
By DePue / De Hoyos

Self-released: 2008

Buy it now

This review first appeared in the Nov. 13, 2008 issue of the North County Times.

Looking at a song list that contains covers of "Stairway to Heaven" and "Dust in the Wind," you wonder if violinist Alex DePue and guitarist Miguel de Hoyos couldn't have come up with a more original way to show off their considerable skills. But much like the New Age duo of Willie & Lobo, DePue / De Hoyos plays with such disarming enthusiasm and consummate skill that even such stale war horses as "Hotel California" and Bill Joel's "The Stranger" are a pleasant listen in their hands.

And they inject a huge streak of Latin fire into everything they play, with both Spanish flamenco and South American influences abounding, that for much of "Black Magic Woman" the theme is unrecognizable. Similiarly, "The Stranger" opens not with Joel's too-familiar theme, but with a riff from a transitional passage in the song. And on the Mexican standard "La Bamba," DePue takes the opening on violin, giving it a different approach than most arrangements which have the riff played on guitar.

The combination of re-arranging popular tunes and the virtuosic playing of the two men gives most of the songs here a freshness few of them have enjoyed in years.