Lila Downs: Salón, Lágrimas y Deseo review – songs of female power

(Sony)

After bravely but cheerfully examining the problems of contemporary Mexico on Balas y Chocolate, two years ago, and then attacking Trump with her English-language song The Demagogue, the Mexican-American diva has switched direction, with an album dominated by songs of female power and survival. Trained as an opera singer, and a specialist in Mexican folk, Lila Downs is remarkable for her vocal and emotional range. Both are on display here. She matches lyrics about suffering and loneliness against a jaunty brass backing on the opening Urge, then moves on to songs that are intimate, angry, or simply good fun. Many of the best are her own compositions, from the defiant Peligrosa, on which she is backed by rock musicians and a mariachi orchestra, to a rousing tribute to Benito Juárez, a 19th-century Mexican president. Elsewhere, this impressively varied set includes jazz balladry and a traditional drinking song.

Contributor

Robin Denselow

The GuardianTramp

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