The Blessing and the Curse is Lance Canales' sophmore solo LP, his first studio album since These Hands, which was released all the way back in 2008. Canales brings all the bluesy, down-to-earth Americana sound one could ask for on the album, armed mostly with a simple yet well-utilized acoustic guitar and a deep, rusty voice that makes other Americana singers sound angelic by comparison. The themes on the album are very remeniscent of southwestern pioneer life, most notably on songs like the uptempo lead track "California or Bust," "The Farmer," and "Deportee," a song about a Mexican immigrants in America. Thematically, the album gets very dark at times--especially on "Death Got No Mercy," which is as depressing and downtrodden as it sounds--but ends on an energetic high note with the electrifying "Stomp it Out." Overall, this album is very good if not particularly ubpeat--a solid Americana album that uses strong lyrical imagery to get its ideas across about the troubles of life in the American West.