Is hard to put the music of Lila Downs into a single category. The Mexican-born singer could fit solidly in the world of folk — frequently singing classic tunes such as Paloma Negra (Black Dove), an old ballad that dwells on the pain of lost love. But she records original compositions, too: songs about life and death, injustice and joy, infused with a global array of sounds that can hopscotch from South America to Spain to Mexico to Eastern Europe over the course of a single album. She will feature guitars and accordions — along with synthesizers and hip-hop beats.
Downs, the daughter of an American father and a Mixtec mother (an indigenous ethnicity from the state of Oaxaca), is a bit of a fusion herself. She was born in Mexico and raised in both Oaxaca and Minnesota . . . .
In March, the singer released her latest album, Balas y Chocolate (Bullets and Chocolate) — a bittersweet endeavor that came on the heels of a terminal diagnosis for her husband, Paul Cohen, a fellow musician who regularly collaborates with Downs on stage and in the recording studio.