During the first week of 2003, the Mendoza Line packed their bags in anticipation of their first ever-overseas appearances in London. It has been frequently observed of the Mendoza Line that they are never short of baggage, and this instance proved no exception: between the unexpected death of longtime inspiration Joe Strummer and the demoralizing inevitability of the looming Iraq invasion, it felt to the band as though the very planet itself was slumping beneath the millstone burden of forces far beyond their control. The sense of inertia was not in any way aided by Shannon, who had prepared seven separate pieces of luggage as well her 'carryall'.
Bearing this in mind, it is difficult then to calculate how edifying and intrinsically important this trip and subsequent 2003 appearances in Ireland, Scotland and Greece thus proved for the Mendoza Line. For this most inward looking (some would offer 'self-obsessed') of musical enterprises, the experience of traveling to foreign shores during a tumultuous time in modern history was both an impetus and a mandate to turn their vaunted skill as songwriters towards the outside world. The resulting album Fortune features an astonishing series of detailed narratives, some told from the point Americans traveling abroad in 2003, and others from the perspective of recent immigrants to the United States. Interspersed with biting cultural commentary and (of course) a little romance, the resulting work is inspiring and intoxicating and a little exotic, perhaps a folk music analogue to the great Ernest Hemingway expatriate novels of the late 1920's.
Like other great albums that deftly intertwine the topical with the interpersonal (Infidels, Armed Forces, Squeezing Out Sparks) Fortune renders it's serious thematic content with buoyant good humor and infectious tunefulness, underscoring the peculiar alchemy which makes the Mendoza Line both funnier and much more poignant then all but a very few of their contemporaries in the folk and pop genres. For the many critics and fans that treasured the Mendoza Line's last release Lost in Revelry in 2002, Fortune will both redouble and expand upon their admiration for a band whose rare vintage somehow improves with each passing year. And for those pundits who remained unconvinced, Fortune is narguable evidence of the Mendoza Line's deserved status in the highest echelons of American folk music. In either case it serves as a gratifying resolution to the unsettling questions raised by that previous release: whereas Lost in Revelry was a document of wayward and abandoned souls searching for any dir
Reviews"Their most confident sounding release. Few bands can make desperation sound so all-embracing and enticing." ” Mojo