Politics, Business & Culture in the Americas

AQ’s Winter Playlist: Mellow Music for the Southern Summer

A selection of new Latin American releases, to warm a cold Northern night or dance a Southern summer night away.
Natalia Lafourcade performs at Le Zebre de Belleville in Paris in June 2022.David Wolff-Patrick/Redferns/Getty
Reading Time: 3 minutes

This article is adapted from AQ’s special report on Uruguay

by Marla Riomar


Mirla Riomar was born in Salvador, Bahia, the center of Afro-Brazilian culture, and now lives in Barcelona. Afrobrasileira, her first album featuring her own compositions, was released earlier this year, and contains “Zaué,” a jewel of a smoothly flowing song she wrote at age 13. Her voice, gliding over Afro-Brazilian percussion and lilting guitars, tells us of her younger self’s dreams.

Loé Loá
by Betsyada Machado


Venezuelan singer Betsayda Machado grew up in El Clavo, a small village not far from Caracas and the Caribbean coast, to which she returned a few years ago to record traditional Afro-Venezuelan music with her lifelong friends of Parranda El Clavo. (A “parranda,” across the Caribbean, is a traditional musical group.) Their music features traditional drums and elaborate vocals, which are front and center in “Gaviota,” from their 2017 album Loé Loá. The infectious call-and-response style, typical of the genre, and the driving rhythm contrasts with wistful references to the titular seagull’s freedom and the singer’s unrequited love—of which she cannot free herself.

by Caribbo


Caribbo is a Surinamese band based in New York, led by Harvey Wirth and Etienne Stadwijk. Their latest release, the single “Loko,” combines traditional rhythms with jazz and features vocals by Philip Hamilton, first through a vocoder—in a nod to early synth-pop—and later in duo with steel-pan player Andy Narell.

De todas las flores
by Natalia Lafourcade


Mexican superstar Natalia Lafourcade was back in the studio in 2022, releasing De to­das las flores, a 12-song album she co-produced with Adán Jodorowsky. “María la Curandera,” a song from the album, is an understated heal­ing prayer inspired by a 20th century Oaxacan healer, María Sabina. The song sounds at once improvised and carefully put together, remi­niscent of a town band. The chorus that accom­panies Lafourcade breathes as one, and subtle brass interventions sound like the trumpeter suddenly decided to join the party.

San Vicente
by Tiganá Santana


Bahian singer Tiganá Santana’s minimalist cover of Milton Nascimento’s 1972 classic song “San Vi­cente” is in many ways the opposite of the original. Where Nascimento sang very high in his regis­ter and seemed to be operating in a vast acoustic space accompanied by guitars, percussion, chorus and even a carillon, the new version places an ex­tremely close focus on Santana’s voice, singing very low over a purposefully sparse piano. Part of the beauty of a cover version of a song, especially if the original is a hit, is the dialogue between iterations: What changed, and what stayed the same?

Carnival of the Ghosts
by Kobo Town

Trinidad and

“Down by the Water” is a surprisingly philosoph­ical song by Kobo Town, led by Toronto-based Trinidadian songwriter Drew Gonsalves and dedicated to delivering Caribbean carnival sounds from the frozen shores of Lake Ontario. Along with a message about how time is bor­rowed and how we will all meet again in the end, the song offers a pleasant blend of summer and winter equally appropriate for either side of the equator.

Listen to the full AQ Winter Playlist on Spotify.


Zubieta is music director at Americas Society and a composer and conductor who has taught music in Argentina and the U.S. He has conducted early and contemporary vocal music and presented his compositions throughout the region.

Tags: AQ Playlist, Cultura, Music
Like what you've read? Subscribe to AQ for more.
Any opinions expressed in this piece do not necessarily reflect those of Americas Quarterly or its publishers.
Sign up for our free newsletter