Juana Molina | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

Juana Molina 

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In the late 80s, Argentine singer Juana Molina lucked into a job doing TV comedy--but she only took it to pay for guitar lessons, she says. As she saved up, however, she also moved up, eventually starring in her own show. "I had a lot of money but no time, and I realized I was very, very far from my first goal," she told the Philadelphia Inquirer's Tom Moon. Almost a decade later she finally returned to music, releasing the rock-driven Rara (produced by Cafe Tacuba regular Gustavo Santaolalla) in '96. Her approach changed radically the next year, after keyboardist Alejandro Franov turned her on to the possibilities of electronics, and she incorporated them into the quiet, deeply introspective sound with which she's made her mark. After gigging in LA for a couple years she returned to Buenos Aires, where in 2000 she released Segundo (issued in the U.S. by Domino this summer); she's since put out a third album, Tres cosas, which comes out here next year. Molina grew up around musicians, including legendary Brazilian bossa nova songwriters Chico Buarque and Vinicius de Moraes, but except for her velvety articulation, there isn't much about her music that suggests their influence. As she strums acoustic guitar and whispers her sensual but tightly coiled melodies, homemade-sounding beats and synthesizer textures seem to bubble up from under them. Based on the handful of translations I've seen, her lyrics describe intimate and domestic scenarios; "El perro" is about the incessant barking of a neighbor's dog, and in "La visita" the singer vows to open up to her mother but doesn't. This is Molina's first trip to Chicago; she opens for Mexican singer Ely Guerra, who performs solo. Friday, December 5, 9:30 PM, HotHouse, 31 E. Balbo; 312-362-9707.

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