Valentina: La Valentina

Put headphones on if you want to fully savor the sirenesque beauty of Mexican-born Valentina González's voice. Hear the fervent passion, for example, with which she tears into “Si acaso” and then uses a loop pedal to generate accompanying layers of her own voice (a strategy used repeatedly), or the desperation in her voice in “Niña de mis ojos.” “Quiero” is even more haunting in the way it pairs a high-pitched, lulling backing with equally transfixing lead vocal melodies. González, who sings in both English and Spanish and integrates elements of Indian music, jazz, trip-hop, and gospel into her music, brings a rich background to the project: she trained with Ali Akbar Khan in 2003, attended the jazz school at Berkeley, and has studied Persian and flamenco singing. Sparsely-arranged settings like “The Light Within” and “Free” (the latter's lullaby mix of piano and glockenspiel especially lovely) allow every soulful nuance and inflection of her voice—already high in the mix—to be caught. A smoky piano lounge ballad “I Feel the Love Again” even lets her indulge her bluesy jazz side. González is bold not only in her vocalizing but elsewhere too, a case in point the instrumental interlude “Medusa II” which weds snarling electric guitars with flamenco rhythms. Occasional hints of other artists emerge during La Valentina—one could easily imagine Björk singing “Cyborg” and “I Like Me,” for example, (less restrainedly than González, probably)—but González's talent comes through loud and clear nonetheless.

November 2007