Alida St, Y La Bamba

Gypsypop Records, U.S. ****1/2
Rating: 92
By Carlos Reyes

Y La Bamba is the project of Luz Elena Mendoza, a mexican-american based in Portland Oregon, points up to Frida Kahlo and Javier Solis as big inspirations of her art, Adeila St. is her debut album. This is an astonishingly confident breakthrough with a precise scope in its angelical vocals and the revelatory lyricism which is evocative and religiously codified. With huge possibilities to succeed in the world music circuit, it’s also a charmingly catchy album that should be able to overpass its folk and break into the pastoral side of the melodramatic popular song. It might be a difficult digest for the purists, but we find a groundbreaking vision in full command by its author. Production-wise it lacks glossiness, but rather than it working against her, this collection of home recordings bring out emotional depth through atmospheric surroundings, where there is space for the listener to refill the sound bites of space. In a song like “Isla de Hierva Buena” she embraces the music of her parents, results in one of those songs that is able to breathe culture even with its funky vocalization. It goes even further with “Las Aguas Venenosas” which carries with it the colorful search of her roots, this gets into the ranchero fields and really strikes for glory. First and lead single “Alida St.” brings out a fascinating factor here, it’s soulful essence and that elevates the intimate exercise and positions it into easy-listening moments of pure joy. It brings back the basics of Brian Wilson or the more contemporary India Arie. The soon-to-be single “Fasting in San Francisco” frees itself from any pretentiousness; its bouncy design is quite seductive and one song that could transcend into mainstream if, say the iPod marketing was to come along. Interesting enough, the album is surrounding by a spiritual layer that gives the album an elegant roundness. “Worshiping intelligence, leading to spiritual ignorance, doesn’t it hurt?”, it’s conditioned as an edgy project in the likes of the melancholy beauty of Devendra Banhart or Beirut. Stream the whole album in the following player.

<a href="">Alida St. by Y La Bamba</a>

♫♫♫ "Alida St."
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