Monday, 17 December 2018

Lhasa ‎– La Llorona (1997)

Style: Neofolk
Format: CD, Vinyl, Cass.
Label: Tôt Ou Tard, Audiogram

01.   De Cara A La Pared
02.   Le Celestina
03.   El Desierto
04.   Por Eso Me Quedo
05.   El Payande
06.   Los Peces
07.   Floricanto
08.   Desdeñosa
09.   El Pájaro
10.   Mi Vanidad
11.   El Árbol Del Olvido

Accordion, Banjo, Bass, Guitar, Producer, Saw – Yves Desrosiers
Bass, Double Bass  – Mario Légaré
Drums, Programmed By, Sampler – François Lalonde
Percussion – François Lalonde, Yves Desrosiers
Lyrics By, Music By – Lhasa De Sela, Yves Desrosiers
Vocals, Artwork By – Lhasa De Sela

Lhasa’s debut album, “La Llorona,” is an album steeped in Mexican folk flavor mixed with eastern European gypsy spice. A landscape of classical acoustic guitars carry the weight of the majority of compositions, though it is not void of the oompah of upright bass and accordions to really give it that distinct traditional and folksy sound. Violins, wind instruments, pianos, and percussion are there, but most of those are there to add to Lhasa’s rich and powerful vocals, which happen to be presented all in Spanish on this recording. 
“La Llorona” finds Lhasa to be an impassioned and forceful vocal performer. Her later albums are much more laid back in delivery, perhaps due to comfort with her unique style. She hasn’t yet developed her smoky and smooth timbre, but instead sounds more energetic and throaty, though no less enchanting. This album is much more upbeat than later releases, yet for being a debut, it is still surprisingly unsafe in musical composition and lyrical content. Lhasa lays it all on the line. 
The first track, “De Cara a la Pared” sounds like it should have been on her second album, with its sorrowful violin and equally sorrowful vocals. This is definitely a stand-out track, and seems fitting as the first to get the listener hooked. The next two songs “La Celestina” and “El Desierto” are intense in regards to Lhasa’s vocal zeal, almost sounding like she’s about to crack on the latter. 
“Por Eso Me Quedo” just may be the most soulful and gorgeous track on the album, featuring an instantly memorable melodic waltz coupled with heartfelt lyrics. The song “Floricanto” is a quirky and bouncy delight of accordion, tubas, dueling guitars, and snappy snare drum; I really enjoy Lhasa’s layered vocal acrobatics here. And while the second half of “La Llorona” is superb, the last handful of songs tend not to stand out as much as the closer. “El Arbol del Olvido” is an aural masterpiece, and while I’m really not certain what instruments are creating its depressing drone, it’s certainly intriguing. I suspect it is multiple or layered bass chords, with a saw played toward the end. It sounds kind of creepy, but the addition of Lhasa’s throaty voice in light reverb makes it enchanting. 
For those who don’t know, Lhasa lost her life to breast cancer on January 1st of 2010, 13 years after “La Llorona” was released, and only 37 years into her existence. And while this may be tragic to her family and friends and fans, anybody can still get to know her a little bit, just by pressing play.
Madapaka / sputnik music