Dignificada (La Balada de Digna Ochoa) (Dignified) (The Ballad of ...)
Cielo Rojo (Red Sky) - Lila Downs, Zaiar, Hnos.
Malinche - Lila Downs, Cobera, Yunior Terr
Tirineni Ts?tsiki (Flower of Marigold)
Mother Jones (Madre Jones) - Lila Downs, Downs, Lila
Paloma Negra - Lila Downs, M?ndez, Tom?s
Brown Paper People
There?s no doubt that singer Lila Downs' profile is on the rise after her appearance in the film Frida and on the accompanying soundtrack, which led to a performance at the 2003 Academy Awards. The dividing lines between c... more »ultures and classes are major themes throughout the Mexican-American singer's decade-long career; but whereas 2001?s Border is more angry about the disparities, One Blood: Una Sangre is more inclusive, if only for the hopeful note of unity sounded in the English-language version of the title cut (the album has two distinctly different readings of the song sung, respectively, in English and Spanish). While much of the cumbia-based, genre-breaking material here is original, Downs and her band completely revamp two covers: Ritchie Valens classic "La Bamba" features techno beats and African drumming; the folk song "La Cucaracha" opens with wailing guitar before settling into a gentle reggae groove. Stylistically restless and lyrically didactic, One Blood: Una Sangre is as ambitious as it is beautiful. ?-Tad Hendrickson« less
There?s no doubt that singer Lila Downs' profile is on the rise after her appearance in the film Frida and on the accompanying soundtrack, which led to a performance at the 2003 Academy Awards. The dividing lines between cultures and classes are major themes throughout the Mexican-American singer's decade-long career; but whereas 2001?s Border is more angry about the disparities, One Blood: Una Sangre is more inclusive, if only for the hopeful note of unity sounded in the English-language version of the title cut (the album has two distinctly different readings of the song sung, respectively, in English and Spanish). While much of the cumbia-based, genre-breaking material here is original, Downs and her band completely revamp two covers: Ritchie Valens classic "La Bamba" features techno beats and African drumming; the folk song "La Cucaracha" opens with wailing guitar before settling into a gentle reggae groove. Stylistically restless and lyrically didactic, One Blood: Una Sangre is as ambitious as it is beautiful. ?-Tad Hendrickson
"I first heard Lila Downs' sultry, smokey voice in the film "Frida." The movie's entire soundtrack is extraordinary, and I still listen to the CD frequently. Fortunately Ms. Downs has come out with four albums since then, because I love the passion and soul she puts into her music. "Una Sangre" is her latest offering. And it is an eclectic, outstanding mix, based on her multicultural artistic vision!
Lila Downs is a Mexican-American vocalist, with a Scottish-American father, and a Mixteca mother. She grew up in both the Mexican state of Oaxaca and in Minnesota, USA, bi-lingual and bi-cultural. Lila received formal voice training in Mexico and in the States, and performs her own compositions, as well as tapping into the rich indigenous music from the Mixtec, Zapotec, Maya, and Nahautl cultures. Her variegated sound is a real fusion of Mexican folk songs, rich American blues and jazz, along with some pop, mixed in with Afro-Cuban and Brazilian rhythms. I occasionally hear some gospel in there also. It is really difficult to pigeonhole her music and interpretations into a genre. This is a good thing! She is totally original.
"Viborita (Little Snake)," leads off with a fantastic driving Afro-Latino beat sustained by a fleet bass drum, with call-and-response vocals. It is very reminiscent of coastal music from Mexico, Central and South America, as well as the Caribbean - similar influences, right? The poignant "Dignificada," comes right afterward, and really gives the artist an opportunity to show-off her versatility with this slow sensual bolero. "Cielo Rojo," (Red Sky), is an excellent cut, one of my favorites - a sort of Mexican flamenco with 3 very different guitars at work here. It's gypsy-like, with soaring vocals and Lila, at times, trilling a falsetto high in the back of her throat.
"Bamba" is her take on the 200+ year-old song that Ritchie Valens made famous outside of Mexico, and her version of "La Cucaracha" is a fabulous 'cumbia', which some folks mistakenly call reggae. Reggae, which I really like, is totally different. The cumbia is a Colombian folk dance and music, which originated among African slave populations on the country's Atlantic coast. It is popular in areas of Mexico and Latin America. Extremely sensual, the music is often classified as "salsa, played in 4/4 time with a heavy beat one and accentuated beats three and four, giving a loping rolling rhythm similar to 'riding a horse.'" Anyway, this version of "Cucaracha," which usually has political lyrics, is certainly the most unusual I have heard.
"Tiringue Tsitsiki" (Flower of Marigold), is beautiful and sweet. Lila harmonizes with herself with minimal accompaniment here. While Malinche, with Downs' deep-toned voice and powerful delivery is bold, with lots of percussion - snare drums, maracas, and harp. "Paloma Negra" is traditional Mexican, with a fresh touch. "Mother Jones," performed in English, is pure blues. "One Blood," and "Brown Paper People" are also sung in English.
Lila's husband, Paul Cohen, is the musical director and saxophonist. He has brought together an excellent, international group of instrumentalists who come from the US, Mexico (string-multi-instrumentalist, Celso Duarte), Cuba (bassist, Junior Terry Cabrera), Chile (drummer/percussionist, Yayo), and Brazil (guitarist, Guilherme Monteiro). Mexican and American guitarists Ernesto Anaya and Marvin Sewell, make guest appearances, as does the renowned Japanese percussionist Satoshi Takeishi.
This is a wonderful CD! Lila Downs is a unique artist - simply superb! Highly recommended! JANA"
Another great offering
Enrique Torres | San Diegotitlan, Califas | 06/15/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"On this Lila Downs fourth or fifth CD if you count the rerelease (with additional tracks)of "Sandunga" finds her even deeper and more comfortable in her binational soul. Revealing her bicultural identity by the light of the moon , much like a leopard in a starless night jungle, her vocals pounce on your soul, invading and capturing your innermost feelings. There is a certain maturity to her latest work that reveals an accomplished artist, one who has travelled the globe and still comes back to her roots. There are no less than five traditional songs that have been given the Lila Downs treatment to retain their folkloric roots but with an edge, the Lila Downs edge. Even the songs that are originals have that feeling of traditional folkloric music because of fine production and musicianship. Although Lila is the star, credit must be given to the tight band that hails from different lands and whose flags make them like a U.N. delegation. Of course, it goes without mentioning that Lila's "amorcito" Paul Cohen does a wonderful job arranging and producing the various melodies for a tight cohesive sound. If you are new to Lila you may feel the disc lacks continuity but this is who Lila is. She is a multitalented artist whose voice is like a contortionist, bending ,dipping and weaving between genres in her unimitable style. To say she is unique is an understatement. Whether she sings in husky tones, soft whispers, lingering, escalating ,suddenly diving operatic high notes or any style Lila chooses , she is fantastic. Listening to her gives me chills today just like the first time I heard her back in 1999 . The haunting melodies stay with you long after the disc stops playing. I've been listening to this disc for about a year now and never seem to get tired of it. I only put it away , off my multi-disc rotation to give others a chance but I always come back to her. She can sing avariety of styles, many are featured here and they are all really good. Obviously she could do just a jazz album, as is evident on her English version of "One Blood" where she sounds like like a sultry, throaty , Latina, Sade. Her talent is boundless. She has been compared to Chavela Vargas but really there is no comparison, there is Lila and then there is Lila. It is her style, her persona, her music that creates the magic. Some of the more traditional songs that have received the Lila treatment are the mystical "Cielo Rojo," "La Cucaracha," La Bamba," and "Paloma Negra" come to new life like antiques recently brought out of the cabinet to be proudly displayed at the table. Although I like very much the traditonal songs featured on this disc I am also drawn to "Dignificada" which has a slight reggae back beat, "Malinche" which explores the Mexican godmother cursed by some but that belongs to all of us who have Mexican heritage, the bluesy , rootsy sung in English "Mother Jones," the call to musical arms Paul Cohen sax introduction on the Arabic sounding "Brown Paper People" with it's hip-hop inflected vocals adding further worldly textures and both Spanish and English versions of "One Blood/ Una Sangre" solidify the bilingual/binational nature of this disc. Lila is like a fine glass of wine or aged anejo Tequila that resonates with the various nuances and influences of the earth and climate, creating an experience to be savored and to reflect upon. She is not a person who fits into the flavor of the day pop- variety-disposible-icons that flood the music market today. This is a true artist who reflects what many people only feel and cannot express. This is another in a succesive line of great Lila Downs albums to be experienced. As others have stated, check her out live too. I've seen her three times and her shows are incredible. You need this CD in your collection, your soul will never be the same."
S. Morgan | Portland, OR USA | 10/25/2004
(4 out of 5 stars)
"I went to see Lila in concert before buying any CDs and it was more than a show, it was an experience. The crowd was quite diverse including many Anglos and many Latinas and Latinos. Everything about the show was excellent and the audience would have brought Lila out again and again. If you ever have the chance to see her live, don't let the change slip by!
The songs on this disc are a mix of so many of the influences of Lila's background, both ethnically and socially. Performing in a wide range of styles and languages, a lot of ground is covered here. Even the old (who would have thought?) La Cucaracha takes on new life and meaning here and leads into the a quirky, erie, bluesly English Language "Mother Jones". On first it can seem disjointed, but then I think the listener puts together the pieces and realized that they are hearing bits of a unified whole, which reflect the artist's very being, like the unrelated pieces of a quilt come together to form a piece of art.
Some of the tracks took longer to grow on this listener than others, but they all have their place and function on the CD. I can see how the disc may not be for everyone. It's quirky, it's varied, it's not for those who want to sit down with background music. It jolts the listener from the jazzy to the hip to the traditional, sometimes within the same song. But to the adventurous music lover, Una Sangre is a must-have."
A true star
secretadmirer | NJ, USA | 07/22/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I discovered Lila Downs via a sample track (Mother Jones) on a Global Rhythm magazine sampler CD. Whoa! Where had I been? This woman is a force of nature! An eclectic album, from traditional Mexican songs to hip-hop flavors, I even detected a little Sade in the mix. But the real strength is her personality, which flows through every song. Excellent production and musicianship all around. It's mesmerizing. Buy this album *now*, give it to your friends - you can be the discoverer of a new star. I have not been as excited about a woman singer since the first times I heard Sam Phillips and Kirsty MacColl. But Lila is literally worlds away from them. Oh, and do not miss seeing her live if you can. A truly uplifting and inspiring experience. She brings people together - not an easy thing to do in these divisive times."
A TRUE GEM
Lila Lover | Tucson, AZ | 10/17/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"The radiant Lila Downs is a godsend for Latinos who grew up appreciating the best of Mexican and American music. The experience of growing up in Minnesota and Oaxaca is reflected in her recordings, which feature Latin, jazz, blues and even rap influences. "Una Sangre" is among her best works. Standout tracks are the ethereal "Cielo Rojo," the thumpin' "La Bamba," the jazzy, Sade-like "One Blood," the soulful, bluegrassy Mother Jones" and her heart-rending version of "Paloma Negra." Overrated? I think not. With a beautiful voice, profound songwriting and innovative instrumentation, Lila Downs is a treasure we should cherish."