Lonesome L.A. Cowboy EP
The young men of Mapache don’t like to waste time. In the studio, Sam Blasucci and Clay Finch often gather around a single microphone to capture their songs live in a take or two at most. On the road, they begin charming audiences instantly, captivating crowds with their mesmerizing harmonies and intricate guitar work from the very first notes. And now, just months after releasing their critically acclaimed debut, the duo is already back with a beguiling new EP titled ‘Lonesome LA Cowboy.’
“We just didn’t see any reason to wait,” says Blasucci. “Our repertoire has grown since our first record, and these songs are just too much fun not to sing.”
Consisting of three charismatic covers, ‘Lonesome LA Cowboy’ encompasses a far broader swath of time and space than the hour it took to record would suggest, effortlessly bridging decades, genres, and even international borders. Tapping faithfully into an era that ended well before their births, Mapache’s performances here conjure up dry desert breezes and lush coastal canyons with a distinctly southwestern brand of harmony-driven folk and country that’s at once vintage and contemporary. The pair relies on nothing more than acoustic guitars and enchanting vocals to work their magic, pulling influence from the architects of American roots music as well as formative years spent living in Mexico and filtering it all through modern, youthful sensibilities. It’s music with little regard for boundaries or barriers, reverent of the past but fully immersed in the present.
“We make music that’s reflective of the landscape we grew up with in southern California,” says Finch. “It’s a big sweep of all the really rich influences you encounter around here: folk and psychedelic and country and Latin and rock and cowboy and Hawaiian. We’re drawing from a really deep well.”
Recorded in a similarly stripped-down fashion with producer Dan Horne (Cass McCombs, Allah-Las), Mapache’s self-titled debut introduced the duo’s timeless songwriting and airtight harmonies, earning obvious comparisons to The Louvin Brothers in addition to more cosmic keepers of the flame like Graham Parsons and the Grateful Dead. Aquarium Drunkard hailed the duo as “a blazed up Everly Brothers” and raved that “the LP faithfully radiates the intimate warmth of their live shows,” while No Depression said the album “weds lilting melodies to lyrics that often extol the beauties of nature,” and Saving Country Music declared that the duo “can fill up a room with more soul soaring harmony than most symphonic assemblies.” The music helped earn the band festival appearances from Pickathon to Mountain Jam as well as tour dates with Chris Robinson, Nikki Bluhm, Beachwood Sparks, and more.
Though Mapache (Spanish for “raccoon”) only recently began recording, the duo’s roots stretch all the way back to high school, where Finch and Blasucci struck up a friendship over a shared love of skateboarding and classic songwriters. After graduation, Finch headed north to study music at Chico State (birthplace of The Mother Hips, who recently invited Mapache to perform at their beloved Hipnic festival in Big Sur), while Blasucci headed south to Mexico, where he served as a missionary for two years.
“The experience opened up new ways of creative thinking for me,” says Blasucci. “I was only 18, and suddenly I was thrust into living independently in a new country. I had to learn to rely on myself and to pursue the things that I really wanted.”
Blasucci was also introduced to whole new worlds of melody and rhythm, falling particularly hard for the folk music of northern Mexico, a style that informs his playing and writing to this day.
While the duo’s debut showcased the incisive lyrical and melodic craftsmanship of their original work, ‘Lonesome LA Cowboy’ highlights their skills as interpreters and cultural synthesizers, taking tunes best known for renditions by The Louvin Brothers, Doc Watson, and Peter Rowan and making them distinctly their own. The lilting “Katie Dear” spins beauty from tragedy, while the bittersweet “Last Thing On My Mind” bids a fond farewell to a lover, and the laidback “Lonesome LA Cowboy” captures the days and nights of a West Coast troubadour.
“Even though it was written in 1973, that song couldn’t be more accurate of life here in LA as a musician,” says Blasucci. “There’s a line in there about Barney’s Beanery, though, and we changed it to the Semi-Tropic because we live nearby and we’re there all the time. We made it a little more personal to our story.”
That’s ultimately what Mapache does best, reaching into the past to create something truly modern and deeply personal. Their sound isn’t an exercise in nostalgia, but rather a link in a chain that stretches far behind and ahead of them. ‘Lonesome LA Cowboy’ draws strength from what’s come before and lays the groundwork for what’s to come next, building on tradition at the same time as it creates its own. If Mapache can do all that in an hour, just imagine what the future holds.