This article is adapted from AQ’s print issue on piracy in Latin America
New year, new sounds. Our first soundtrack of 2019 highlights four of Latin America’s most innovative female musicians
Eme Alfonso – Voy (I Go)
A sophisticated Afro-Cubanism runs through Eme Alfonso’s third solo album. Recorded in Havana and finished in São Paulo by producer Alê Siqueira, Alfonso’s jazzy compositions and lyrics draw on international sounds but remain connected to her roots. “Veo” (I See) is a tribute to Old Havana, while “El Bote” (The Boat), tackles political pressures that confront the singer’s homeland. The daughter of two well-known Cuban musicians, with Voy Alfonso adds a new accomplishment to her family’s musical legacy.
Mima – Ñam Ñam (feat. Otura Mun)
Puerto Rican singer and composer Mima has released only two albums since 2005. That makes her new version of “Ñam Ñam,” based on a poem by Luis Palés Matos, a great excuse to explore her catalogue. Mima’s jagged and swinging electronic pop is full of layered arrangements and clever, sometimes humorous lyrics — as in the tragicomic “Ducati,” from the 2011 album El Pozo, which relates the demise of a man’s motorcycle at the hands of a jilted lover. By turns melancholy, romantic or lighthearted, Mima’s airy, do-it-yourself production keeps the center of attention on her direct vocal delivery.
Andrea Ludovic – AILM
Andrea Ludovic is a Caracas-based DJ, composer and engineer with a passion for digital music technology. After two releases filled with relentlessly frantic and cathartic dance beats, her latest album, AILM (her initials), allows the music to breathe and even to occasionally stop for awhile. The second track, “DEATH,” superimposes a mournful piano and an ominous bass melody over an unsteady beat. AILM remains as halting as her earlier releases, but incorporates a new variety of tempos and barely coalescing sounds. Reminiscent of her fellow Venezuelan, electronic superstar Arca, Ludovic here keeps her own deeply personal musical style intact.
María Cristina Plata – Después de Todo (After All)
María Cristina Plata’s Después de Todo (After All) offers just the thing to shepherd both the smitten and the heartbroken through the Valentine’s Day season. The album includes three of the most heart-wrenching classics of the Latin American songbook, alongside equally devastating laments by a newer generation of fellow Colombian female composers. The arrangements, reminiscent of Eydie Gormé’s work with Los Panchos, are transparent, just Plata and guitars, plus an accordion in “Que Nadie Sepa Mi Sufrir” and a solitary drum in the last track, “Zamba del Viento.” All along, the focus is on Plata’s beautiful and expressive voice — and those desconsolate lyrics.
Zubieta is director of the music program at Americas Society