Natalia Lafourcade just moved to a new place in Mexico City. There are boxes everywhere around her as we speak via Skype for the U-LAB Podcast. Her cat, Leonora, wails in the background, still not used to her new surroundings.
A month ago, the never-not-working Lafourcade played the last concert of her worldwide tour for Hasta La Raíz, her GRAMMY and Latin GRAMMY-winning 2015 album. And now, the singer-songwriter has released a new record, Musas, an homage to Latin American folk music, and especially that of her native Mexico.
For Musas, Lafourcade collaborated with Los Macorinos, the septuagenarian guitar players Miguel Peña and Juan Carlos Allende who are best known for performing with the great Chavela Vargas during the last six years of her life. The vintage-sounding album of boleros and folk songs includes covers of classics by Violeta Parra, Simón Díaz and Agustín Lara, among others, as well as original compositions. For the track 'Tú me acostumbraste', Lafourcade duets with the Cuban chanteuse Omara Portuondo.
"I wanted to do something that sounded like Mexico. The way Los Macorinos play, sounds very melancholic, it's simple but very Mexico," says Lafourcade in the podcast.
Even though Lafourcade never met Chavela Vargas in person, she, along other women such as dancer Rocío Sagaó and Violeta Parra, are the muses of this album. She even painted the mixed watercolors and collages that adorn the album cover and each single, inspired by the different muses. She takes some of the collages out of the moving boxes at an arm's distance and shows them to me over Skype.
"[Chavela] gives you the inspiration for doing something that will inspire others to being very proud of being Mexican and Latinoamericano," says Lafourcade caressing one of the collages. "There’s so many good things about Mexico that people still don't know." It is clear she is feeling fiercely proud of her Mexican culture lately and would like her fans to appreciate it as well.
For Lafourcade, Musas (which will include a second volume later this year) is full of "femenine energy" and she calls it "the most sensual album that I’ve made" adding: "Makes me want to make a baby..." and then pauses. "But no, I won’t. Not yet," she says, her laughter echoing away in her empty house.
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