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Border (La Linea)
Lila Downs
Border (La Linea)
Genres: International Music, Pop, Rock, Latin Music
  •  Track Listings (15) - Disc #1

Singer-songwriter Lila Downs uses these 15 compositions (both originals and covers) to explore the joys and sorrows experienced by Mexican immigrants who cross the border for a better life only to experience exploitatio...  more »


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CD Details

All Artists: Lila Downs
Title: Border (La Linea)
Members Wishing: 0
Total Copies: 2
Label: Narada
Original Release Date: 1/1/2001
Re-Release Date: 7/3/2001
Genres: International Music, Pop, Rock, Latin Music
Styles: Mexico, Latin Pop, Regional Mexican, Mexican Cumbia, Tropical, Cumbia
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaCD Credits: 1
UPCs: 724381026526, 0724381026557, 724381026557

Singer-songwriter Lila Downs uses these 15 compositions (both originals and covers) to explore the joys and sorrows experienced by Mexican immigrants who cross the border for a better life only to experience exploitation and racism in this country. A child of a Mixtec Indian mother and Anglo-American father, the talented Downs brings in a fresh perspective from two cultural worlds. She imbues the Mexican cumbia style--which is itself a variation on a Colombian form of dance music integrating Latin, Native American, and African styles--with blues, jazz, and even a little hip-hop as pre-Colombian and Mexican percussion nestles comfortably with strings and electric guitar, piano, and bass. Lila Downs is a wide-ranging singer who passionately expresses her melancholic subject matter without lapsing into melodrama, and with this album she crosses musical borders of her own. --Bryan Reesman

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CD Reviews

Exotic Mexican and indigenous sounds from Lila Downs
Daniel J. Hamlow | Narita, Japan | 11/09/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)

"OK, folks, listen up! It's been a few hours since I went to see Lila (pron. Lee-la) Downs in concert at San Juan College. Yes, in Farmington, NM(!), and the two months I've waited since I bought the ticket was worth it! Most of the songs was taken from La Linea (The Border), which thematically describes the immigrant experience of Mexicans into the US, and is dedicated to those who were killed trying to enter. I will admit, with the audio footage during the performance of migrant workers and women enslaved in the maquiladoras, I felt my leftist stirrings bubbling. She clearly came with an agenda, but using the language of music to entertain but also educate, standing on a stage and not wagging her finger on a soapbox. Here are the highlights."Sale Sobrando" (Good For Nothing) is a song about the indigenous experience, from the time of Cortes to the massacre in Chiapas, and the racism encountered: "your face is dark but you want to be white/but you really like your taco and tortillas." The title is explained in the last three lines: "Tourists and foreigners come here in vain/what do they worry for-human rights?/if justice here is good for nothing?"She puts in her husky Billie Holliday-like emotion in Cuco Sanchez's "Corazoncito Tirano" (Little Tyrant Heart), whose instrumentation veers towards country. She asks, "whose mouth is erasing/the kisses I gave you, little tyrant heart?"The mid-paced ballad "La Nina" (The Girl) is dedicated to the women workers, and tells the psychologically debilitating effects of a maquiladora worker, who only gets Sundays off. The song ends on a positive note of hope, that someday, those days will be over: "one day you will be equal to everyone.""Hanal Weech" (Eat, Armadillo) was performed at the concert and it's an upbeat cumbia sung in Mayan. The spoken interlude, translated in English goes, "You, beautiful woman even though you are very attractive, the day will come when I leave you because you smell like an armadillo. But if you put some perfume on, I'll come back to you." She explained this and it drew laughter. Celso Duarte's violin plays heavily here, and Lila's voice has a comical, child-like tone. One thing that I wonder: what do armadillos smell like?A Woody Guthrie medley, "Pastures Of Plenty/This Land Is Your Land" is sung in English, and she did this in concert. She does the second song with a jazz-ish melody, something like late 80's Sade, except with a Latin beat. But there is also a rap that questions the definition of being American. "When did you come...long long before the buffalo walked?" or "Say you're American, but what does it mean?""El Bracero Fracasado" is a quick mariachi number about someone who made it past the border with nothing but the clothes on his back, and went through hunger and hardship only to get sent back where he has nothing.The elegiac "Transito" (Transit) is a sad look at someone far from home who works "in this valley of asphalt and lead", where the factory prospers, but not the workers. "Smoke" is about another massacre of people that hasn't stirred human conscience. "Now everyone's waiting and hoping for justice/but will there be goodness when men kill their own?" she asks.The sad torch song "La Martiana" based on a Zapotec song, is an entreaty to a young girl. Lila briefly recited excerpts of this before singing it, "Little girl, when I die/don't cry over my grave/because if you cry I will haunt you/but if you sing to me, my life/I will always live. I will never die." My favourite song here."La Llorona" (Crying Woman) is a melodic harp and guitar ballad and features the many aspects of Lila's hearty voice, soaring high octave, to low and smoky Holliday-style register, to that shuddering with emotion. Another favourite, and also on the Frida soundtrack.The bonus track is an exotic cover of "Perhaps, Perhaps, Perhaps", or "Quizas Quizas Quizas" in Spanish, most popularly done by Doris Day. Lila sings the verses in her hearty mid-register Spanish, the chorus in a softer register, in English.Most of the lyrics are printed in both Spanish and English, so that's a big help. In all cases, Lila's able to capture the emotion of the lyrics and music. Her voice soars, rings harshly, and even quivers with emotion. And the Mexican and pre-Columbian instruments enhances this album with an exotic flavour. Gracias, Lila!"
Enrique Torres | San Diegotitlan, Califas | 09/17/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)

"Add a star to this superb collection of songs, it's that good! The CD is organized around the theme of Mexican immigration from south of the border by people seeking a better life. Lila Downs is probably the best artist out there you may not have heard of. She sings a variety of styles and could be a giant in any genre if she chose. Instead she defies classifiation and tantalizes in various styles. If you've heard her distinct voice you'll never forget her. Without a doubt this is her finest release to date. Her vocal range is fantastic and defies the norm for "divas." This is also her most accessible CD with several songs in English. Easily my favorite CD from the summer of 2001, this is one of those that can be played over and over. Lila's voice flows seemingly effortlessly from husky baritone to soaring tenor into soprano with a range that is operatic reaching notes off the scale. Her voice is heartfelt and full of emotion that touches the listener and captivates one's soul. One of the highlights from this CD is the "Medley:Pastures of plenty/This land is your land," with Lila asking questions and posturing in defiance of a more traditonal arrangement of the Woody Guthrie classic. Lila's voice is unforgetable and strikes chords deep within one's soul. The themes chosen are a perfect avenue for her voice which wails with conviction and passion, sometimes playful but always serious. There are no personal faves, the whole CD is a conceptual masterpiece that supercedes individual songs. Each song has a unique quality that is befitting of a fave. The musicians chosen to be around her are all excellent and hail from different parts of the globe adding worldly textures to this masterpiece. If you like music that fits loosely into the world music category, that is folkloric and jazzy, rhythmic and soulful then this is for you. Highly reommended for those that like music with a message that doesn't massage, Lila is straighforward and to the point. Music with a message tends to hammer the point, Lila has the ability to hit you a sledge hammer and it feels good. There is enough variety ("La Llorana","Perhaps, Perhaps","Smoke","El Feo", "Soy Pescador") on this CD to deter you from the The Border but like it's immigrants, the diversity adds to the total beauty. Get this CD, it is vital music reflective of both sides of the border. The booklet is an outstanding bilingual edition with beautiful pictures and words. Viva Lila Downs y que Viva La Vida!!"
Beautiful and Inspirational !
Armando M. Mesa | Chandler, AZ | 09/29/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)

"Lila Downs is a very rare and gifted songstress that treads where many other artists may be afraid to go ! By that I mean this vocally gifted singer and songwriter combines the best of a lot of different worlds both musically and culturally. This Freida Kahlo (female Mexican painter) look- a-like remains true to her roots and ethnicity while bringing a new world music flavor to this potpourri of tracks. Born of a Caucasian American father and Mexican Indian mother she is able to maintain a rich balance musically on both sides of the border. She sings about the trials and tribulations of Mexican immigrants without slamming the country she was born in (United States).In fact, Border/La Linea could be the international immigrant anthem album for all races of the world...Her voice is best described as silky, yet throaty, deep and rich in vocal range with a hint of female torch jazz singer quality! The melange of styles of music range from Mex-Tex, Carribean, Cuban, and definitely Mexican with modern worldly influences. The music maintains a certain pure and organic sound while touching on a hint of jazz, pop, and yes classical (the trained musical ear will know what I'm talking about) ! Each song is a story with heart and meaning but without turning into a campy or preachy homily. This artist's latest project is what Linda Ronstadt's Canciones de mi Padre did for the late 80's in the music world (though I will give Lila Downs a much higher rating for being genuine, natural, and innovative) !...This Lila Downs project is a definite find and keeper !"