[17 December 2007]
Named for the Pan American highway, a network of roads that stretches from Cape Horn, Argentina, to Fairbanks, Alaska, Federico Aubele’s second album synthesizes influences from all over the Americas, linking them together in the same way the Via PanAmericana connects North and South America. Written and performed entirely in Spanish, Panamericana features guest spots from a variety of South American artists, including Columbian singer Vernie Varela, and Argentinean ska band Los Fabulosos Cadillacs, as well as Spanish singer Amparo Sanchez of Amparanoia. Despite the pervasive South American feel of the disc, the influence of the Thievery Corporation is unmistakable, from the bass-heavy grooves to its chilled out, cosmopolitan vibe. With understated production by Thievery Corporation member Eric Hilton, the disc sounds wonderful. Hilton never lets the electronic rhythms never overpower the more delicate acoustic instrumentation, and does a nice job maintaining a relaxed feel throughout. Aubele sings on about half of the songs. Most of the rest feature beautiful vocals from Natalia Clavier, a veteran of Aubele’s touring band, including album opener “La Esquina” and my favorite track “Corazon”, with its laid-back dub reggae bassline, flamenco guitar and understated horn accents courtesy of Los Fabulosos Cadillacs. If you enjoyed the early Café Del Mar compilations produced by Jose Padilla, with their relaxed Latin vibe, you’ll enjoy this disc.