Review Summary: Lush, deep, emotional, rich, melancholic, compelling, beautiful, uplifting, reflective, and downright lovely.
To describe the music of Lhasa is somewhat of a burden. It’s simply because there may not be enough adjectives in the English language to achieve such a feat. Lush, deep, emotional, rich, melancholic, compelling, beautiful, uplifting, reflective, and downright lovely all come to mind. Still, these descriptions don’t do justice. Only the ears do justice. Lhasa’s music is a vibrant palette for the ears, and this album in particular, showcases her most diverse and powerful compositions.
The instrumental landscape of “The Living Road” is broad. Handclaps, guitars, tambourines, trumpets, drums, cymbals, synthesizers, electronic samples, pianos, violins, wind instruments, xylophones, shakers, and no doubt other instruments that aren’t instantly recognizable, grace the musical canvas. But really, the most intense instrument of all is Lhasa’s voice.
Lhasa’s sultry, sexy, husky, and emotive voice is a force to be reckoned with. Her multicultural and multinational heritage are on display as she switches from Spanish to English to French flawlessly. It matters not if one understands, it only matters if one hears and listens. Her vocal qualities command attention.
The album opener “Con Toda Palabra” is haunting and catchy. It is a deep and sexy song. For those who don’t speak Spanish, I urge translation. “Anywhere on this Road” showcases some odd key progressions, at times sounding like an Islamic prayer, and just may be Lhasa’s most diverse composition. Songs like “La Frontera” and “La Confession” show distinctive Mexican flavor, though the latter is in French. “Small Song” is in English and has a bluesy flavor and an interestingly percussive instrumentation. “My Name” is stark and depressing, and “Soon this Space Will Be Too Small” takes that description and magnifies the feeling a thousand times with its barren piano and synth coupled with Lhasa’s contemplative lyrics.
What is saddening is that Lhasa died on New Year’s Day, 2010, at the age of 37, due to breast cancer. We will never hear new compositions from this incredible artist, though her music lives on…