Mexican singer-songwriter Natalia Lafourcade is a big deal in the Spanish-speaking world. In the English speaking world, less so. But her recent album De Todas las Flores, released in October last year, is something that every person, regardless of their language, needs to listen to. It should be required reading for any human being with emotions. Lasting just over an hour, this is an album that is unceasingly beautiful – gentle one moment, joyfully cathartic the next.
Having last released music of her own in 2015 with Hasta la Raíz, De Todas las Flores sees Lafourcade radically shift away from a Latin pop-oriented sound towards a more folky, pared-back aesthetic. Channelling a multitude of traditional Latin genres I don’t know a lot about – bolero, cumbia, son jarocho – this album is a thrilling sonic fusion.
Classical style strings whirr in the opener ‘Vine Solita’ before completely vanishing, leaving us with the sound of Lafourcade’s soaring soprano voice that sounds like it is echoing off the walls. Entirely recorded on analog, you can tell a lot of this album was recorded live. It feels incredibly intimate. We then move to the title track where humming bossa nova chords give a contrastingly jazzy and playful feel, making it an album highlight. The incredibly soulful, longue music-sounding, ‘El lugar correcto’ is Laforucade’s most impressive lyrical display. Despite not knowing anything she is saying, her voice is so pleasing to listen to. Words seem to pour out of her in a display of verbal gymnastic, all the while rhythmically coasting along. At no point do they disturb the easy listening experience on this downtempo number.
‘Muerte’ begins with Lafourcade enchanting the listener with spoken word before moving into a catchy chorus that is at odds with the gloomy subject matter. The song builds and builds before exploding at the end. Over pulsing salsa instrumentation, a cacophony of horns screech. It sounds like Lafourcade has let loose a hoard of monkey in the studio. As she yells from afar, ‘Muerte!’, she seems to be joyously overcoming the anxieties and pressures of her own mortality. The tender ‘Que te vaya bonito Nicolas’, however, is a perfect closer. Part lullaby, part serenade, Lafourcade gently eases us after a series of explosive songs. The same style strings we heard at the beginning of the record recur as the last thing we hear – perfectly bookending a breath-taking album.
I can’t stress enough how amazing this album is. Don’t be dissuaded by any language barrier. Lafourcade’s voice is fantastically evocative; it makes for an absolute gift to the non-Spanish speaker as she contains so much meaning purely in her intonation and cadences. Do yourself a favour – listen, listen, listen.
(Photo: Ortega from Flickr)