26 August 2009

WhoPedro?

CD REVIEW
Depedro – Depedro
(Nat Geo Music)

Preconceptions? You find it hard to form any based on the abstract art on this CD's cover. Of course there's the name -- Depedro -- sounding vaguely Latino. Or Spanish? Indeed... You see that half the song titles are Spanish. But then the other half are English. You're still puzzled, so there's nothing to do but throw the CD in the player.Depedro - on SoundRoots.org

You're greeted by guitar and horns on the folk-rocky “Como El Viento,” on which the vocals reveal pronunciations from Spain. And just about now you look at the liner notes and realize that Depedro isn’t a person; this is really an album by Jairo Zavala and friends, though this fact sheds no more light on the music, since you haven’t heard of Zavala before*.

Now you’re on “La Memoria,” which with its driving beat and banjo highlights might be a country/alt-rock thing if the lyrics weren’t in Spanish. The album continues – catchy but puzzling – veering from “Camanche” sounding like a Latino version of some 1970s action TV show theme to a fantastic vibes-and-Moog-laced interpretation of the Mexican folkloric classic “Llorona."

You love the sound of this album. Perhaps it reminds you a bit of Ry Cooder’s “Chavez Ravine,” or something from Lila Downs. And you get to thinking that this might just be the perfect first release for National Geographic’s new label Nat Geo Music. Like the magazine, you find this music both foreign and familiar, alien and accessible, a little puzzling yet beautiful throughout.

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*Well, maybe not directly. But then you realize that he's the touring guitarist for Calexico, and has penned songs for the likes of Spanish star Amparanoia and Spanish instrumental surf troupe Los Coronas. Still, you've never heard him like this.
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