La Boca (Pheremone Recordings, 2014)
Canadian singer-songwriter and global traveler Alejandra Ribera sings and writes primarily in English and Spanish. Alejandra spent time traveling through Spain and France. Her chameleonic, sometimes breathy vocal style sounds at time like English-language Sarah McLachlan or Kate Bush. However, when she sings in Spanish, her Argentine roots show with echoes of tango, as well as Lhasa de Seda influences.
Musically, Alejandra crosses several musical boundaries, ranging from pop to introspective folk, world music and the avant-garde. The musical arrangements in La Boca include Celtic pipes, brass, meditative piano, harp, mesmerizing steel guitar and global percussion.
“The three Bs are big in my life: Bjørk, Bette Midler, and Billy Connolly,” says Alejandra of her top influences.
“My first album (Navigator, Navigather) came out in 2009, and people said I was crazy to wait to record the second,” she explains. “But I knew I wanted to work with producer Jean Massicotte (Lhasa de Sela, Patrick Watson). He was booked, so I waited for three years until he was available. And I was right; he was the person to find my thread, no matter whether I was singing in English, French or Spanish.”
Born in Canada, Alejandra traveled to Glasgow when she was 19 to see her mother’s Scottish homeland. She lived in Paris and sunny Malaga (southern Spain), and later moved to Quebec to work with Jean Massicotte.
“I don’t want to tell a story in my songs,” Ribera clarifies. “My writing is like an abstract painting. I choose words for their sonic qualities, for the architecture of a phrase. I want to evoke emotions in the listener. Sometimes I begin with the lyrics – I have piles of paper with ideas. But they take usually a year or two to grow. I’ll go back to my notes and suddenly I’ll see how they make sense.”
Even though she was born in Canada, Alejandra’s first language was Spanish. Her father is from Argentina, and the family spent a year there when Ribera was very young. When they returned to Canada, she stated that she was just going to speak English.
“But the sound of Spanish still feels very familiar,” she says. “It’s like something just out of reach, beyond a veil. So much of my writing is like a conversation with myself that’s very open-ended. And going outside my comfort zone, especially traveling where you don’t speak the language, stimulates me.”
La Boca is an intelligent and beautifully crafted polyglot crossover album.
Alejandra Ribera will be performing later this month in the United States:
August 20 – New York NY at Joe’s Pub
August 21 – Washington DC at Bossa Bistro
Buy La Boca
Author: Angel Romero
Angel Romero y Ruiz has been writing about world music and progressive music for many years. He founded the websites worldmusiccentral.org and musicasdelmundo.com. Angel produced several specials for Metropolis (TVE) and co-produced “Musica NA”, a music show for Televisión Española (TVE) in Spain that featured an eclectic mix of world music, fusion, electronica, new age and contemporary classical music. Angel also produced and remastered world music and electronic music albums, compilations and boxed sets for Alula Records, Ellipsis Arts, Music of the World, Lektronic Soundscapes, and Mindchild Records. Angel is currently based in Durham, North Carolina.