Inventive Mexican pop star Natalia Lafourcade elegantly balances past and present | Concert Preview | Chicago Reader

Inventive Mexican pop star Natalia Lafourcade elegantly balances past and present 

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click to enlarge Natalia Lafourcade

Natalia Lafourcade

Leon Bennett

Over the past couple decades, few Latin American pop singers have matched the elegant sophistication of Mexico City native Natalia Lafourcade, who’s found inventive ways to balance chart-­topping melodies with a meaningful engagement with the prerock past. Five years ago, on her gorgeous album Mujer Divina, Lafourcade took advantage of her popularity to salute the work of Agustín Lara, the great Mexican composer of romantic songs and boleros, duetting with a diverse array of guest vocalists (including Gilberto Gil, Devendra Banhart, and Miguel Bosé) in her first explicit exploration of the pop traditions of her homeland. Her strong new album, Musas (Sony Music Latin), continues in that vein with a mix of originals and covers, all steeped in a deeply romantic mode thanks largely to the presence of veteran guitar duo Los Macorinos (Juan Carlos Allende and Miguel Peña), whose sweet-toned picking was frequently heard on the recordings of great Mexican singer Chavela Vargas. Lafourcade effects an artful balance by placing the old-fashioned pair, who join her for the current tour, within relaxed but decidedly contemporary arrangements—whether it’s delivering a sensual meditation on the sea on her own “Soledad y el Mar,” interpreting songs by Violeta Parra and Margarita Lecuona, or luxuriously inhabiting the old standard “Son Amores (That’s Amore)” without a touch of kitsch. Her singing provides a natural focus—a dulcet presence that makes everything she tackles feel seductive, timeless, and of the moment.   v

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