“Alchemy” is the debut, 5-track EP, by US psych-folk/Americana duo Los Brujos, who comprise Chuck Melchin, a pivotal member of alt. country collective, The Bean Pickers Union and Michael Spaly from folk–bluegrass-psychedelic jam band Green Monroe. The guys have been playing music together on and off for most of the last decade, having met through the vibrant Cambridge, Massachusetts roots rock scene. As Michael now lives in Michigan, Chuck in the woods of New Hampshire and the COVID 19 pandemic putting the brakes on travel, collaboration could only be done remotely. They decided to record a few new songs remotely in their home studios, and to put them out under a new band name, Los Brujos.

This release opens with ‘Reckoning’, a song written by Chuck with music from Michael. Although the harmonic vocals and guitar / mandolin interplay recall Woodstock era Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young, the lyrics would seem to hint at something possibly bleaker.

A reckoning is the avenging or punishing of past mistakes or misdeeds and with the space, in the song being a place where no angel ever happened on, it`s left to the listener to make up their minds as to the outcome. We have a song that reminisces on a relationship long gone with ‘Bronco’ with music and lyrics from Chuck. The heartbreak is almost tangible especially on the chorus where Carla Ryder`s harmonies really compliment Chuck`s vocals. I have to say the mandolin and violin swathes were exquisite and the sound of the frets on the acoustic guitar added a sense of intimacy.

Another number penned and sung by Chuck follows with ‘Everything I Can’ which has a similar sentiment to `Bronco` but this time from the perspective of the leaver. It has a more upbeat feel with the drums leading the mandolin, violin, and electric guitar along at a pace with an almost cheery disposition which seems at odds to the lyrics or maybe it`s just a recognition of the inevitable. The guys trade vocal duties on the emotional ‘High Times’ a number written by Michael. A tale relating to moving to a new town and not really fitting in. The lyric of “it’s a whiskey town, it`ll bring you down” says it all. I really enjoyed the banjo, violin and piano keys which led us through this more melancholic composition.

This extended play closes out with another Chuck composition ‘Bitter Blue’ which he sings as well. A combination of guitar, fiddle and mandolin creates a background for this tale of a young guy who can`t seem to change no matter where he resides. A liking for ditch weed (cannabis grown in the wild) and warm beer may be at the root of his troubles.

I have to say I really enjoyed this introduction to these singer song writers, and I do enjoy a storyteller that relates a narrative that is left with you to decide how it pans out. These fellas are not only talented songwriters but know how to shape a good tune around a tale. They have been ably assisted with the help of friends with Chris Coughlin, Jim Larkin and Carla Ryder all adding their skills. The definition of Alchemy is the process of taking something ordinary and turning it into something extraordinary, I`d say Los Brujos have gone a fair way with this release.

Rating 9 /10