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Mando Saenz Covers Dio, Evokes Radiohead on His ‘Most Nashville Record’ Yet

Songwriter expands his sound with dream-pop production and a heavy-metal cover

Mando Saenz titled his first album in eight years All My Shame. But the veteran Nashville songwriter who’s had his songs recorded by Miranda Lambert, Midland, and Lee Ann Womack has nothing to regret. Despite the heaviness of the record’s title, Saenz isn’t repenting for past sins. Instead, he’s celebrating the empowerment that comes with finally knowing oneself.

“You might think it’s a shameful thing, but it’s about being yourself and knowing your flaws,” Saenz says. “Sometimes you just got to put it out there and not consider them flaws — it’s just who you are.”

Saenz, a native of Corpus Christi, Texas, cut his teeth in the Houston clubs before moving to Nashville. For All My Shame, he worked with producer Ken Coomer (Wilco), who helped him tap into dream-pop sounds and vibes on the album. There are elements of both Big Star and Radiohead in tracks like “In All My Shame” and “Talk Is Cheap.”

“I knew I had those influences just because I loved all different kinds of music over the years, including those two bands, but I didn’t realize how much infused into my writing until Ken’s production brought it out,” Saenz says. “It was good to let these songs breathe in that direction.”