After the late-year pop-diva wave of Beyoncé, Katy Perry and Lady Gaga (along with the lesser-light distractions of Miley Cyrus, Avril Lavigne and Britney Spears), a sector of music listeners might now be in the mood for something more upmarket. In 2014, I have high hopes for the continued emergences of Lianne La Havas, Solange, Laura Mvula, Angel Haze and Jessie Ware, and perhaps the return of Adele (in a jazzier form, if the rumours are true).
Off the radar, though, the second coming of Alejandra Ribera is something I forecast. The theatrical, trilingual siren smoked cigars and our senses a few years ago, and now is back with the sublime album La Boca, due for an early February release. Ribera is currently based in Montreal, where she worked with Jean Massicotte, the producer known for his work with the late Lhasa de Sela, the coolly exotic singer who could have been channelled by Ribera in either English, French or Spanish.
On La Boca, Ribera has toned down her dramatics and sunk herself into wistful melodies, cosmopolitan arrangements and universal lyrical themes. A gallop here, a waltz there – her soulful LP is high-proof but gentle, about rabbit holes, abandoned satellites and the need to want again. Ribera is a lot to take in; it’s possible she’ll break overseas first, what with Europe’s broader reception zones. But this in an artist who seems to have solved her puzzles and found a clearer way of expression. Her dreamy, chanteusey cover of the Proclaimers’ 500 Miles is an understatement and a celebration, for that distance may feel like a walk in the park for Ribera now.
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La Boca goes on sale Feb. 4.
– Brad Wheeler