La Boca

Alejandra Ribera

Pheromone Records, 2014

REVIEW BY: Tom Haugen


Canadian pop and jazz sensation Alejandra Ribera released her debut Navigator/Navigateher in 2009, then spent five years gearing up for her sophomore album. Why five years? Well, the multi-linguist took some time to recuperate from touring, then spent an entire year making the album, then an additional year fine-tuning it. The result is a very layered disc sung in three different languages (English, French, and Spanish) that expand on her roots into a worldly scope that transcends all cultural preconceptions of what pop music should sound like.  my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

The album opens with the self-titled track “La Boca,” where soulful piano leads and singing in English quickly moves into Spanish. Following this is the bagpipe heavy “Goodnight Persephone,” which finds Ribera's unique voice steering us through a twinkling, soothing pop rock gem. “No Me Sigas” shows a drastic shift into muffled singing over quirky Latin percussion, which illustrates how playful Ribera can get, and “Bad Again” complements that playfulness but in a more sultry, sexy fashion.

If Ribera is ever to see any commercial success, it's likely to be because of the first single “I Want.” It is an instantly memorable and emotional tune where calm acoustic strumming meets her impressive vocal range; it's hard not to envision a younger Natalie Merchant when hearing it. It's easily the best song here, but not far behind it is the slow-burning, haunting feel of “St. Augustine” or the moving English/French duet with Arther H, “Un Cygne La Nuit.”

I can't help but mention The Proclaimers cover Ribera has so fabulously reinterpreted. Though we've all heard “500 Miles” redone, usually in the same tempo and note for note, here it moves at a crawling pace with slide guitar, putting a rustic spin on a classic anthem.

Ribera reportedly waited three years for producer Jean Massicotte to become available for this, another reason for the hiatus between albums, but it seems her decision was worth the wait. This is a superbly produced album that should restore anyone's wavering feelings about pop music today.

Rating: B+

User Rating: Not Yet Rated



© 2014 Tom Haugen and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Pheromone Records, and is used for informational purposes only.