Ana Laan | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

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Born in Madrid and raised in Stockholm, Ana Laan creates a sophisticated brand of internationalist pop; like Bjork and Bebel Gilberto, she takes sounds from a multitude of traditions and makes them her own. Though her father is Swedish and her mother is American, she sings most of the songs on her stunning 2004 debut, Oregano (Nardis), in Spanish. Musically, though, she speaks many languages. "Para el dolor" is pure bossa nova, "Uti var hage" is a traditional Swedish folk tune with layered a cappella vocals, and the hard-hitting, bass-driven "Hidra" sounds like it could have originated in the Middle East. Oregano was produced by Leo Sidran (son of noted jazz performer Ben Sidran), and he bolsters Laan's pretty, airy melodies with a variety of rich electronic samples. It's the best Spanish-language pop record I've heard in the past year, and it beats the hell out of me why more people haven't heard of it; I discovered it myself only this year, after spotting it on Ernesto Lechner's list of top-ten 2004 albums in the Tribune. Laan will perform with Sidran at this show, and there's a chance that she'll also be joined by her husband, Uruguayan singer-songwriter Jorge Drexler, who's best known for writing "Al otro lado del rio," the Oscar-winning song from The Motorcycle Diaries. Sun 8/7, 8 PM, HotHouse, 31 E. Balbo, 312-362-9707, $12.

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