Wednesday, June 12, 2024

With cumbia, ranchera, Lila Downs’ latest album pays homage to the chile

Mexican-American singer-songwriter Lila Downs’ new album is dedicated to the chile, is conformed mostly of cumbia beats and and doesn’t shy away from a hot issue in Mexico and the United States — immigration.

Downs said during an interview in New York that immigration is an “uncomfortable” issue for some people, but she could not abstain from addressing it in her new release, called Al Chile.

Al chile is a Mexican expression that means speaking with honesty, being “straight up” or “keeping it real.”

“It’s our personality. We Mexicans are sweet, but also spicy,” Downs said about her album’s title.”We are like that verse from La Llorona: ‘I am like the green chile, Llorona, hot but delicious,'” she sang with a smile.

Downs covers Manu Chau’s iconic song Clandestino, a hymn to immigrants everywhere. She gave the song her own cumbia and ranchera-inspired touch, and modified some of the lyrics to make it more up to date with the times, making it a protest against the immigrant detention and family separation policies in the United States.

“If we don’t fight for the children, what will become of us?” she asks.

Downs said she sings the song from the perspective of a migrant woman because her mother was one.

“My mother was a migrant. She married a gringo, she went to the United States. She came here and suffered. She migrated from her indigenous town to the city, she lived those two periods of her life, which were difficult, and perhaps that is why my perspective is that of the woman,” said Downs.

In Al Chile, Downs offers a diverse selection of music, through collaboration with various Mexican bands playing traditional Mexican music, to a song with jazz artist Norah Jones.

Two of the album’s 11 songs were co-written by Downs and her husband, Paul Cohen.

Source: AP (sp)

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