La Llorona

Audiogram - Canada ([email protected])
Atlantic - US

Lhasa A truly unique album, this one, and if you are as taken as I am by June Tabor or Mary Coughlan albums, you will certainly find this one irresistible, as well. Lhasa de Sela describes herself as a classic American character. He mother was American but lived in Mexico most of her life. Her father was Mexican and drove his family around the North American continent in a van, he and his wife educating his kids on his own, feeding them music instead of TV and radio. Llhasa grew up on roads that led to Mexico, the western US, and then, as an adult, to Canada, where she found her voice as a singer.

And a strange and unusual singer she is, part hippie blues singer, part Edith Piaf and, with her arranger and musical partner, Yves Desrosiers she has developed into a smokey, murky version of Tom Waits (see Bone Machine) as Mexican jazz diva. This is an elusive album, moving moment by moment from broad strokes of nightclub jazz to sly dashes of Bill Frisell slides to bold prods of mariachi as klezmer. The band is simple, primarily guitar, percussion and bass, used in simple, effective and surprising settings, occasionally punctuated by reeds, strings, accordion and such. Mostly though, La Llorona is about Lhasa's voice, an instrument both aggressively stagy and impishly folky. - Cliff Furnald

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