Flor de Toloache: Las Caras Lindas

 

All the Breaks

Listening Post 150. “Whatever women do,” observed the feminist pioneer Charlotte Whitton, “they must do twice as well as men to be thought half as good. Luckily, this is not difficult.” No surprise that when Flor de Toloache became the first all-female mariachi band in New York City—and a rarity on the wider mariachi stage—they encountered skeptics. But the group’s first album earned a Grammy nomination and their second, Las Caras Lindas (The Pretty Faces), won the 2017 Grammy for Best Ranchero/Mariachi Album. The women who form the group’s core—Mireya Ramos, Shae Fiol, Julie Acosta and Eunice Aparicio—sing elegant harmonies with abundant exuberance and charm. And though their passion may make singing and songwriting look easy, they literally worked their way up, playing early gigs in the New York subways. Mariachi has a historic protest vein and Las Caras Lindas is no exception: The title track is a hymn to the beauty, music and struggle of Afro-Latinos; Long Gone Girl (the only track they sing entirely in English) is a gotta-get-up feminist statement. But the women focus mostly on love or its absence, spicing traditional mariachi with pinches of tango, salsa, cumbia, jazz, rock, country and hip-hop. Plus magic, musical and metaphorical: Toloache is a Mexican moonflower, used in love potions since Aztec times, that also has an intoxicating effect in songs like Dulces Recuerdos (Sweet Memories), the ballad of a summer romance and a last dance (video 1); Ruiseñor (Nightingale), in which a songbird offers counsel and solace to a lonely woman (video 2); and Éste Vacío (This Emptiness), draining the last drop of yearning from a glass once full of ardor (video 3). No doubt a few breakups paved the way to breaking the glass barrier to the stage on which Flor de Toloache now stands tall. (Chulo Records)

Flor de Toloache is: Mireya Ramos (vocals, violin); Shae Fiol (vocals, vihuela); Julie Acosta: (vocals, trumpet) and Eunice Aparicio (vocals, guitarrón).

Dulces Recuerdos/Sweet Memories:
From the Spanish lyrics: “Sweet memories of love from that summer
Tender looks and the sun smiled at me
I melted in your arms, thinking it was eternal
Even knowing that everything was an illusion
Time passed like a wind’s caress
There you and I were lying to our hearts
Back then everything was ours
But funny is the life that brought us together”

From the English lyrics: “Only hold me ’til the end of the song
Cuz baby if we kiss
/All we’ll do is go wrong
We’ve already been through this/
Got everything I needed from this one dance
We weren’t destined for each other/
This just happened by chance”

 

Ruiseñor/Nightingale: “A nightingale appears at my window
With his melodious voice, he tenderly asks
If he can stay with me, singing until morning

The nightingale says, I see you lonely
A lady like you should have company
Sing with your heart and we will make harmony together

Listen well to my advice, the nightingale tells me
Never silence your voice, always sing with passion
Let your song resonate … your song of love”

 

Éste Vacío/This Emptiness: “No more love, so much loneliness
The cold assaults us when we meet
All that remains is a single sigh, nothing else
What reality offers is not life

This anxious emptiness, yearning for love
Imprisoned by the ground, we no longer know how to fly”

 


2 thoughts on “Flor de Toloache: Las Caras Lindas

    1. Thanks for the citation and link to World Listening Post in article on Flor de Toloache’s upcoming concert in Denver. I especially appreciate being mentioned in the same sentence as Rolling Stone!

      Best wishes,
      Alan Tigay

      Like

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