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Una Sangre: One Blood
     

Una Sangre: One Blood

5.0 1
by Lila Downs
 

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The most Mexican thing about Lila Downs isn't her incorporation of Zapotec and other Oaxacan languages and traditions into her music. It's the extremely self-conscious manner is which she fuses traditional native material with rock, jazz, and cabaret stylings. Mexicans obsess like no other nation over their mixed ancestry; it's a recurrent theme in all manner of

Overview

The most Mexican thing about Lila Downs isn't her incorporation of Zapotec and other Oaxacan languages and traditions into her music. It's the extremely self-conscious manner is which she fuses traditional native material with rock, jazz, and cabaret stylings. Mexicans obsess like no other nation over their mixed ancestry; it's a recurrent theme in all manner of Mexican art, from Frida Kahlo's paintings to the arch "rock nacional" of Caifanes or Café Tacuba. Only a Mexican would title an album Una Sangre: One Blood. Downs further complicates things by being a half-breed herself, and seems hell-bent on embodying as much of Mexico as she can, whether it's overheated ranchera such as "Cielo Rojo," playful son jarocho like "La Bamba," or reggae-laced alternalatino rock along the lines of "Dignificada," which includes a striking feminist rap. The mix -- native percussion, jazz guitars, electronics -- wouldn't be out of place in some Mexico City coffeehouse. In any environment, Downs's voice would attract attention. A supremely versatile instrument, it's alternately smoky, lush, and piercing. On the title track, for example, she's a jazzy torch singer; on "La Malinche" she adopts the strident attack of a Colombian folk singer. Only her relentlessly arty ornaments undercut her vocal power, as on the conclusion to "Viborita," which indulges the bottom of her range to comical effect. Likewise her psychedelic take on "La Cucaracha." An international band nearly as chimerical backs up Downs's expansive visions, mixing jazz fluidity with roots-music smarts. Special guest Satoshi Takeshi, a master drummer of Colombian rhythm, adds particular weight to Downs's fourth album. Fans of this evocative singer will no doubt thrill to the themes and performances, which, if anything, present Lila Downs at her most accessible yet.

Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide - Thom Jurek
Una Sangre (One Blood), Lila Downs' fourth album for the Narada label, is her most restless. Downs is best known to American audiences for her appearance in the film Frida (about the legendary Mexican painter Frida Kahlo) and her major contribution to the film's soundtrack. She has long been in the trenches knitting the indigenous music of her native lands -- Mexico and the United States -- into a sonic fabric where traditional Mexican folk songs, richly textured pop, and American blues and jazz music mix with Spanish and English lyrics that also contain Mexico's Mayan, Zapotec, Nahuatl, and Mixtec Indian dialects. Downs' previous recordings have always been deeply satisfying; they combine a musicologist's world with the fiery heart of an activist poet. Una Sangre is the next step. Here, over the course of 13 songs, she takes a wondrously heady mix and deepens it with other musical elements that come from further afield, and she goes off the deep end into something new and wondrous. She uses Middle Eastern modalities and melodies, Afro-Cuban and Brazilian rhythms, hip-hop cadences, and reggae and even gospel influences, and extrapolates into this mix a dazzling lyrical array, adding Purepecha, an Indian dialect from the central Michoacan region, and Trique, an actual language from one of the 16 divergent ethnic groups who coexist in Oaxaca! Her husband, saxophonist and musical director Paul Cohen (from New Jersey) has woven a tight-knit group of multi-instrumentalists who come from the U.S., Paraguay/Mexico (Celso Duarte), Cuba (Junior Terry Cabrera), Chile (Yayo), and Brazil (Guilherme Monteiro), with guest appearances by Mexican and American guitarists Ernesto Anaya and Marvin Sewell, as well as the renowned Japanese percussionist Satoshi Takeishi. Downs' confidence is remarkable. Her readings of age-old folk songs like "La Bamba" and "La Cucaracha" remove the racist novelty and caricature character they have been saddled with outside Mexico, and restate them with their original ferocity and dignity as communal songs. On the title cut, her band employs dread reggae and she a dry, smoky jazz vocal that is nothing less than sultry and stretches the melody to the point of fissure. "Mother Jones" uses Delta-style blues gospel as a way of slipping into the murk of the Afro-Caribbean diaspora, while "Cielo Rojo" can only be called a Spanish desert blues, with three very different guitars carrying on above the subtle rhythms and Downs' mournful voice coming from the throaty dust and reaching a steamy falsetto that contains all the sorrow in the world. There are no respites from excellence and no false starts on Una Sangre; it is a most daring set performed with passion, focus, and vision. It offers the listener not only considerable pleasure, but the possibility for a new musical paradigm as well.

Product Details

Release Date:
06/15/2004
Label:
Narada
UPC:
0724357675727
catalogNumber:
76757

Tracks

Album Credits

Performance Credits

Lila Downs   Primary Artist,Acoustic Guitar,Vocals,Guiro
Yo-Yo   Percussion,Drums,Bombo
Marvin Sewell   Bouzouki,Electric Guitar,Resophonic Banjo
Satoshi Takeishi   Kanjira,Cajon,taiko,Udu,Maracones
Ernesto "El Canella" Anaya   Acoustic Guitar,Violin,Vihuela
Guilherme Monteiro   Acoustic Guitar,Electric Guitar
Yunior Terry Cabera   Bass,Electric Bass,Acoustic Bass
Celso Duarte   Violin,Harp,Jarana,Vihuela,Charango
Paul Cohen   Clarinet,Tenor Saxophone
Yunior Terry Cabrera   Bass Guitar,Double Bass

Technical Credits

Bill Traut   Management
Ernesto "El Canella" Anaya   Arranger
Aneiro Taño   Producer,Audio Production
Tomas Mendez   Composer
Traditional   Composer
Lila Downs   Arranger,Composer,Producer,Audio Production
Betto Arcos   Liner Notes
Celso Duarte   Arranger,Composer
Bill Trout   Management
Paul Cohen   Arranger,Composer,Producer,Audio Production

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Una Sangre: One Blood 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
A mix from traditional mexican songs to jazz. An unusual but perfect combination. Lilia has a piercing sentuality in her voice that gives me chills. Every music lover should have a copy.