I hadn’t heard of Natalia Lafourcade, the pop musician born to musicians in Mexico City whose 2002 debut went Platinum in Mexico, before I checked out Musas Vol. 2
, her second tribute in two years to the musical “folklore” of Latin America. Yet I feel after five or six spins that I’ve got a full picture of Lafourcade, here performing with the acoustic guitar duo Los Macorinos: her interests, her instincts, the contours of her songwriting and voice. Musas
, to this end, strikes me as extraordinarily expressive
, turning Lafourcade’s inside world into something tangible and alluring for her audience.
The album, comprising three Lafourcade originals, three traditional songs, and a selection of Mexican pop classics, is a masterclass in curation—no song on here fails to articulate the artist’s passion and talent. From the lively percussion and group serenade of opener “Danza de Gardenias” to the languid traditional ballad “La Llorona” all the way through to instrumental closer “Gavota,” Lafourcade negotiates out of each song a sensibility drenched in delight and warmth. Always floating exquisitely atop the bright arrangements, her voice navigates the variety of melodies with a smoothness and emotional flexibility that reminds one of Nara Leão’s Dez Anos Depois
, Françoise Hardy’s La question
, and other such intimate documents of the kind soul.
Musas Vol. 2
also happens to be a bit long, and for good measure stacks its three longest tracks back to back to back. This can prove to be a problem when one sits down with the record—each song deserves your attention but it’s only natural to trail off a bit during the second half. Yet there is pleasure to be found in so many little nooks and crannies of the songwriting that it's easy to forgive this small structural flaw.
One has at some point to stand back and wonder at the artist’s ability to coax these delectable nuggets of chord and melody out of each composition: check out the absurdly moving ending to Maria Grever’s “Alma Mia,” Lafourcade's voice reaching on its tippy toes to the heights of effervescence, or the airy harmonies of Benigno Lara Foster’s “Desdeñosa,” both of these treated with a kind of reverence and particular emphasis by the interpreter. Perhaps you’ll forgive me for putting down words on a page before doing my proper research into an exciting discography: this is a smooth, addictive album, full of little surprises and pleasures, and one that will surely set me searching for further renditions and shades of Natalia Lafourcade's sparkling personality.