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Latin America - Released October 4, 2019 | Nonesuch

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Latin America - Released April 14, 2015 | Metamorfosis Enterprises Inc.

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Latin America - Released September 9, 2016 | Metamorfosis Enterprises Inc.

Singer and songwriter Gaby Moreno has been a critic's darling since her self-produced debut offering Still the Unknown was released in 2008. Thankfully, the Guatemala-born artist didn't get stuck in that particular prison. She's toured the globe, collaborated with Van Dyke Parks, Hugh Laurie, and countryman Ricardo Arjona, won a Latin Grammy as Best New Artist, has sung on several hit singles in the Latin market, co-composed the theme song for the TV show Parks & Recreation, and delivered the title theme for the Disney-animated film Elena of Avalor. Ilusión, produced by Gabriel Roth, is her fifth, and a nearly perfect showcase for her impossible-to-pigeonhole talents as a songwriter and as a singer. While she has publicly classified her own music as "Spanglish folk soul" it seems merely a label to placate the press. She probably doesn't think about it. Moreno is equally versed in classic blues and jazz, sophisticated pop, country, and various Anglo and Latin American folk styles. Opener and first single "Se Apagó" (reprised in English as the bookend "Love Is Gone" with guest Nashville R&B singer Jonny P) is modern retro-soul through a lens that had Stax gazing at Motown. Her throaty delivery digs right into the bone of her lyric to expose its naked emotion. Contrast it to "Nobody to Love," a cut-time jazz-blues waltz that reveals the influence of Mamie Smith, with swirling B-3 and reverbed guitars. "Pale Blue Lights," with its upright piano and cut-time drum shuffle, is a bluesy, late-night saloon song while "Maledicion Benedicion" is a hot, country two-step delivered in Spanish with cracking snares and wrangling electric guitars. "Fronteras" ("Borders") is a ranchera disguised as a countrified folk song; it, and the glorious ¾ time, string-laden vintage (à la the '60s) Latin pop anthem to love that is "Si Pudiera" ("If I Could") were originally written in French and translated into Spanish by Arjona. "Estaré" offers a Muscle Shoals-esque upright piano and B-3 wedding Southern soul to early rock & roll and gospel. Moreno's contralto soars over the top as the rhythm section builds an unshakeable base underneath. The title track, with its simple mariachi guitar line, weaves a humorous, surrealist lyric into an early 20th century swing-blues melody. Ilusión is Moreno's best offering to date and its colorful array of styles are anything but what its title proclaims. It is a magnificent illustration of her fully developed skills as one of the more sophisticated singer/songwriters in our midst. ~ Thom Jurek
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Latin America - Released November 20, 2015 | Metamorfosis Enterprises Inc.

Some recording artists issue holiday albums as items to fulfill contractual obligations and are rarely invested with the full creativity of one's craft. Guatemalan singer Gaby Moreno is the exception to these rules. Posada offers a dozen tracks delivered in Spanish and English in an astonishing variety of styles. Opener "Adeste Fidelis" weds the triumphant hymn to mariachi, orchestral pop, and vintage R&B. "Peces el Rio" is a traditional Spanish carol whose poetic lyrics contrast the pregnant Virgin Mary involved the chores of everyday life with the anticipation of fishes in the sea at the arrival of the world's savior. Moreno introduces the song with a flamenco intro before transforming into a swinging gypsy jazz number (complete with delirious violin) as traces of Andalusian and Sephardic folk are woven through the chart--her scat singing in the outro is gorgeous. How many versions of "El Niño Tambor" ("The Little Drummer Boy") have been arranged as country-blues numbers with a ringing slide guitar? "El Primer Noel" ("The First Noel") and "Noche de Paz" ("Silent Night") are indie-style productions that offer wonderfully textured modern sonics with a dreamy warmth framing the vocal. Contrast this with her close-to-the-root reading of "Oh Pueblecillo de Belen" ("O Little Town of Bethlehem"), a lovely ranchera. Another Spanish carol, "Hacia Belen Va Una Burra Rin Rin" (whose roots date back to Galician times) is a children's song offered with a norteño lilt, while "Mi Burrito Sabanero" is a grooving cumbia. "Jesus en Pesebre" is an organ- and reverb-drenched, guitar-driven hymn, but her delivery never sacrifices the lyric's reverence in the arrangement. "Go Tell It on the Mountain" is resonant, bluesy gospel, while closer "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas" retains the familiar North American standard for calssic pop. An intimate piano, upright bass, brushed snare, and jazz guitar underscore her crystalline vocal, which is wistful yet restrained, capturing the melancholic and nostalgic emotional core in the lyric. Moreno's approach here is mostly non-secular, but her stylistic diversity makes necessary room for the universal nature of the holiday (the devotion in the Phil Spector-esque "Santa La Noche" is a stirring example). Posada is sophisticated, ambitious and fun. It stands as an original in genre where retreading the tried and tired is the industry norm. Moreno's command of the material is astonishing, making this set is a must hear for anyone else interested in Christmas albums, and an essential purchase for those seeking to add only the very best to a collection. ~ Thom Jurek

Latin America - Released July 12, 2019 | Nonesuch

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Latin America - Released August 5, 2016 | Metamorfosis Enterprises Inc.

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Latin America - Released August 5, 2016 | Metamorfosis Enterprises Inc.

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Latin America - Released July 3, 2018 | Nonesuch

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Latin America - Released July 3, 2018 | Nonesuch

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Latin America - Released July 12, 2019 | Nonesuch

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