Music

Mercedes Sosa: Corazón Libre

Matt Cibula

Can we give this woman some love, please?"


Mercedes Sosa

Corazón Libre

Label: Deutsche Grammophon
US Release Date: 2005-09-13
UK Release Date: 2005-09-05
Amazon affiliate
Amazon
iTunes

You are forgiven for being worried about this record; after all, this is acoustic folk music, it's all in Spanish, and Joan Baez did the line-drawing illustrations. This is the stuff that nightmares are made of, for most of us, and that's okay.

But Mercedes Sosa is a legend, not just in her native Argentina, but all over South America. She was one of the founders of the nueva canción ("new song") movement in the 1950s, a movement that cried out for justice and was responsible for at least one revolution. She gets mad cred points for having been jailed and exiled by the Argentinean junta, just for singing. (She's not even a songwriter, which tells you a little bit about the power of her voice.) So, yeah, Mercedes Sosa has been a force for peace and justice and liberty for more years than most of us have been alive. So lose the reservations about her, because she's more of a rebel than Bob Dylan ever pretended to be.

This album contains 16 songs. It's not fancy; just her big lovely contralto voice, accompanied by a small group or just a guitar, and the occasional duet with one of her guest male singers. And the songs are not big huge shiny scary strident anthems, either - some of them are love songs, and even tunes like "La Canción Es Urgente" ("The Song is Urgent") sound poem-like and introspective. Songs about forgotten children and beseiged gauchos -- who of course represent the wild spirit of the people of Argentina -- sound personal, direct, crooned directly to us instead of bellowed into the wind. So don't come expecting turgid U2-isms or español versions of "A Mighty Wind". Hers is a more subtle art than that.

But this is all the better to eat us with. These beautiful songs, whether they are classics like "Tonada del Otoño" or new tunes like "Lapachos en Primavera", stick in the memory after a listen or two. The title tune, written by Rafael Amor, accomplishes an entire spectrum of tonal color with just a couple of instruments and that big ol' voice asking her free heart to never give up…it's powerful stuff.

Many different song styles that most of us have never heard of are represented here: the zamba, the chacarera, the milonga, the chamamé, and more. (It's all extremely well-explained in the booklet; one should get college credit for just listening and reading.) But they're all tied together by the unbridled loveliness of the melodies, and by Mercedes Sosa herself. Her voice is one of the world's great instruments, not least because of the passion and history behind it. She is 70 years old, and she just released one of her greatest albums. Can we give this woman some love, please?

9

In Americana music the present is female. Two-thirds of our year-end list is comprised of albums by women. Here, then, are the women (and a few men) who represented the best in Americana in 2017.

If a single moment best illustrates the current divide between Americana music and mainstream country music, it was Sturgill Simpson busking in the street outside the CMA Awards in Nashville. While Simpson played his guitar and sang in a sort of renegade-outsider protest, Garth Brooks was onstage lip-syncindg his way to Entertainer of the Year. Americana music is, of course, a sprawling range of roots genres that incorporates traditional aspects of country, blues, soul, bluegrass, etc., but often represents an amalgamation or reconstitution of those styles. But one common aspect of the music that Simpson appeared to be championing during his bit of street theater is the independence, artistic purity, and authenticity at the heart of Americana music. Clearly, that spirit is alive and well in the hundreds of releases each year that could be filed under Americana's vast umbrella.

Keep reading... Show less

From genre-busting electronic music to new highs in the ever-evolving R&B scene, from hip-hop and Americana to rock and pop, 2017's music scenes bestowed an embarrassment of riches upon us.


60. White Hills - Stop Mute Defeat (Thrill Jockey)

White Hills epic '80s callback Stop Mute Defeat is a determined march against encroaching imperial darkness; their eyes boring into the shadows for danger but they're aware that blinding lights can kill and distort truth. From "Overlord's" dark stomp casting nets for totalitarian warnings to "Attack Mode", which roars in with the tribal certainty that we can survive the madness if we keep our wits, the record is a true and timely win for Dave W. and Ego Sensation. Martin Bisi and the poster band's mysterious but relevant cool make a great team and deliver one of their least psych yet most mind destroying records to date. Much like the first time you heard Joy Division or early Pigface, for example, you'll experience being startled at first before becoming addicted to the band's unique microcosm of dystopia that is simultaneously corrupting and seducing your ears. - Morgan Y. Evans

Keep reading... Show less

This week on our games podcast, Nick and Eric talk about the joy and frustration of killing Nazis in Wolfenstein: The New Order.

This week, Nick and Eric talk about the joy and frustration of killing Nazis in Wolfenstein: The New Order.

Keep reading... Show less

Scholar Judith May Fathallah's work blurs lines between author and ethnographer, fan experiences and genre TV storytelling.

In Fanfiction and the Author: How Fanfic Changes Popular Culture Texts, author Judith May Fathallah investigates the progressive intersections between popular culture and fan studies, expanding scholarly discourse concerning how contemporary blurred lines between texts and audiences result in evolving mediated practices.

Keep reading... Show less
8

Which is the draw, the art or the artist? Critic Rachel Corbett examines the intertwined lives of two artists of two different generations and nationalities who worked in two starkly different media.

Artist biographies written for a popular audience necessarily involve compromise. On the one hand, we are only interested in the lives of artists because we are intrigued, engaged, and moved by their work. The confrontation with a work of art is an uncanny experience. We are drawn to, enraptured and entranced by, absorbed in the contemplation of an object. Even the performative arts (music, theater, dance) have an objective quality to them. In watching a play, we are not simply watching people do things; we are attending to the play as a thing that is more than the collection of actions performed. The play seems to have an existence beyond the human endeavor that instantiates it. It is simultaneously more and less than human: more because it's superordinate to human action and less because it's a mere object, lacking the evident subjectivity we prize in the human being.

Keep reading... Show less
3
Pop Ten
Mixed Media
PM Picks

© 1999-2017 Popmatters.com. All rights reserved.
Popmatters is wholly independently owned and operated.

rating-image