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Gaby Moreno, Illustrated Songs
Paisley Records, April 5

03/31/11
By Eric Saeger news@hippopress.com



I’m all for a little diversity, and multi-lingual chill-folk singer Gaby Moreno has enough eclectic interests that her constant gear-switching is coherent, at least to overeducated NPR liberals. Basically this is ripe for soundtracking a snobby coming-of-age-again-for-the-fifth-time Baby Boomer movie, music that’s slow, flabby, and randomly old-sounding, in other words annoying to people who aren’t neurotic wine-snuffing upper-management cube-droids. She’s personally into 1940s songbirds and plays that card early, conjuring Edith Piaf fronting a mariachi band in opener “Intento.” Things get shaken up right away, though, with “Mess a Good Thing,” a sluggish Bonnie Raitt-like blues-rocker that clearly demonstrates her playfulness and lungs but doesn’t stand up in context, as we’re on to bossa nova balladry in “Y tu Sombra” and then back to clarinet cabaret in “Garrick,” at which point the whole thing begins to feel like a demo for Hollywood consideration — a good one, sure, but when the soft-focused Hawaiian-slash-Merle Haggard guitar of “Fin” kicks in, any sane person would be all “jeez, lady, do a brother a favor and pick a locale.”

B-

—Eric W. Saeger






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