Ramona Cordova has crafted 11 songs that, while they might not quite come together as an album, are starkly beautiful nonetheless.
Ramona Cordova, a.k.a. Ramon Alarcon, took his grandmother's name to record this project, and one-half a minute into the album it seems fitting. Cordova's falsetto is more gender-bending than any hair metal singer's could hope to be. His high, theramin warble is a perfect match for his heartbreaking brand of folk music. The Boy Who Floated Freely tells the story of a boy named Giver, who washes up on an island and meets, among others, a girl he falls in love with. The album seeks to track his trajectory and starts off strong. The Spanish-sung "Inside the Gypsy Bar" is full of hand claps and sweat and manages to pump energy into the album without relying on volume. "Giver's Reply" starts off with the boy pining over keys before the song breaks out in pan-banging as precocious as our young, wistful narrator. After that, the album settles into a pattern of simple acoustic folk tunes. Standing alone, songs like "Heavy on My Head" and "Sung with the Birds" are aching and wonderful songs sung with heart and originality. However, stacked together, the songs have a hard time coming together as an album, since the repetition of the guitar belie any trajectory of the album's story. Cordova's voice also might push a little too far in some spots, and while it might be trying overall, when he nails it his voice sounds as imperfect and beautiful as any you'll hear.