Natalia Lafourcade – De Toda Las Flores: Review

Natalia Lafourcade has always delivered a range of sounds by valuing history and allowing it to beautifully encompasses her artistry. From Musas: Un Homenaje al Folclore Latinoamericano en Manos de Los Macorinos and Mujer Divina: Un Homenaje a Augustin Lara to her Un Canto Por Mexico, Lafourcade has been able to make a sizeable splash at a consistent level. She has us hearing how the music she grew up with influences the cadence in her vocals while being able to fall back into orchestrations that incorporates vibrant Alt-Rock, Folk, and Pop Rock sounds. De Toda Las Flores continues demonstrating value by incorporating luscious sonic influences and seemingly expressing that fun with this variety of jazz, pop, salsa, and more. Co-produced by Adán Jodorowsky, son of famed filmmaker Alejandro Jodorowsky, Lafourcade visually catapults us back toward the emotional fortitude of life, giving us an eloquent musical breakdown that consistently keeps us engaged, even during the weaker moments. Whether brass or subtle, the music carries gravitas by capitalizing on Lafourcade’s strengths lyrically and vocally, despite some of its minimalist instrumentations never feeling realized.

De Toda Las Flores begins plucky, focusing on varying string arrangements that match the black-and-white aesthetic of its Shakespearean-influenced album cover, like the first track, “Vine Solita” (translated to “Came Alone”). It somberly transitions between classical string instruments, piano, and electric guitar, as she sings about this destination for self-reflection. When you look at the album cover, an immediate thought might be this album will be intimate, and it is, though Natalia Lafourcade does different things–with Adán Jodorowsky–incorporating auspicious blends that boast some acoustic textures. You hear it as the haziness of “Llévame Viento” (take me wind), and her words describe the place she yearns to be, a beautiful, tropical jungle with varying animals. Beneath the shift to a jazzier lounge-like aesthetic, you can hear the brustling wind meshing smoothly and bringing this track about escapism to life. 

Natalia Lafourcade sings and writes about various thoughts in her mind, and the way she delivers them is mainly refreshing. On “Pajarito colibrí” (hummingbird), she sings about taking a chance and taking on the world; on “Canta la arena” (the sand sings), she allows happiness to grace our presence with life, beautifully working in conjunction with the previous song “Muerte” (death). On “Muerte,” she sings about learning to live life from death, which feels like a slight homage to lessons learned within her culture, Dia De Los Muertos, while simultaneously giving thanks to aspects of her country that make her come with such bravado. Through this slight, spoken word-like melody, she sings: “Le doy gracias a la muerte por enseñarme a vivir/Por invitarme a salir a descifrar bien mi suerte/Tomando mi mano fuerte, llenándola de vida.” It gives us a grounded understanding before she evokes more spiritual, infusing melodies with beautifully cathartic brass instrumentations. It makes way for an acceptance of death, allowing her to indulge and dance on the beaches of Veracruz without care.

Its themes are powerful, and the songwriting is visually detailed, letting you understand her perspectives and the kind world Natalia Lafourcade inhabits. The production is dense beneath its more realized productions, and the minimalism that shrouds beginnings before the complexities show you beautiful synchronization. Yet, it isn’t as consistent. The minimalism doesn’t do much for Lafourcade’s vocals, leaving her to carry the emotional gravitas. You hear it on “Que Te Vaya Bonito Nicolás” (Good Luck Nicolas), where the stings are faint, and Lafourcade is sometimes distant vocally, almost losing the will to take that next step forward. It’s as if she isn’t contextualizing the sounds until it reaches the end, and it starts to make sense with its theme of moving on, particularly acceptance of the light in death. And “Pasan Los Dias” (Days Go On) tries to play the chords slowly to match thought and meaning to make it seem more realized, but even so, the pacing doesn’t stay consistent. It isn’t like “Pajarito colibrí,” where the pacing remarkably suits the shift it envelops with themes surrounding personal growth. The instrumentation flutters as it levels down to embrace those moments as you listen.

De Toda Las Flores has three tracks that don’t exceed the four-minute marker, and the rest exceed five minutes. On the surface, it may be a detractor; however, “Pasan Los Dias” is one where the pacing doesn’t match the ever-long days it tries to replicate. Others get filled with emotional fortitude, allowing you to gravitate to the words and gain a rewarding experience, but it feels entrapped in its concept without trying anything different. It’s especially so with the production during the album’s middle section, where we hear more saxophone and trumpets becoming one with the fantastical, whimsical-like strings that guide you. Switching the tempo from casual to danceable, and vice versa, like the transition from “El Lugar Correcto” (The Correct Place) to “Pajarito colibrí” and back to “Maria La Curandera” (Maria the Healer), a lot is going for the album.

Still, it fumbles through some inflection of the instruments and pacing. But it holds, as what surrounds the two weak tracks are these beautiful Latin-pop instrumentations grounded by Natalia Lafourcade’s flare for melodies, especially “Maria La Curandera,” which drives home the cultural aesthetics beneath the pop. It kept me returning and digesting the music further, as it will with you. It’s powerful and memorable, and as you keep playing “Maria La Curandera” and “Canta la arena,” you’ll feel what she feels and more, especially if English speakers translate as they listen and listen, over and over again.

Rating: 8 out of 10.

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