Natalia Lafourcade | Portage Theater | Rock, Pop, Etc | Chicago Reader

Natalia Lafourcade Early Warnings (Music) Recommended Soundboard Image

When: Sat., March 26, 6:30 p.m. 2016

Natalia Lafourcade is a bona fide pop star in her native Mexico—last fall she cleaned up at the Latin Grammys with five awards including Song of the Year for the title track on Hasta la Raíz (Sony Music Latin). She’s a magnificent pop singer and songwriter, and the sweet melodies from her first recording of originals in six years have seductively and swiftly lodged themselves in my brain as much as her terrific 2012 tribute to legendary Mexican balladeer Agustín Lara, on which she transforms decades-old songs into something utterly contemporary. Her Spanish-language lyrics celebrate love with giddy enthusiasm—and the melodies remain infectiously ebullient—but as the album unfolds she becomes more uncertain. On “Mi Lugar Favorito” you sense the glee from the vibe alone, but her opening couplet erases any doubt about how she’s feeling: “Today I let the sun come in through the window / I lose myself in your gaze at daybreak.” And a couple of songs later she’s suffering rejection: “I was alone on our altar, praying with a song.” Lafourcade employs melodies that wouldn’t seem out of place on a Top 40 radio station, but her best stuff continues to recast the past, transplanting bits of bossa nova, chanson, reggae, and frothy 50s dream pop, all delivered with an effortless, honeyed grace. Mexico has produced lots of hooky, sophisticated pop in the last couple of decades, but no one has matched the classic elegance of Lafourcade.

Peter Margasak

Price: $30

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