Flor de Toloache: Indestructible

Stars from the Underground

Listening Post 246. Imaginary exercise: Build an album around three quotes that express enduring truths. 1) “All you need is love;” 2) “Immigrants strengthen the fabric of American life;” 3) “A woman is like a tea bag – you never know how strong she is until you put her in hot water.” Okay, this isn’t the real origin story of Flor de Toloache’s intoxicating third album, but it does reflect how neatly and profoundly their many-faceted work conveys a cohesive musical message. New York’s first all-female mariachi band—led by core members Mireya Ramos, Shae Fiol and Julie Acosta—literally worked their way up, from playing in the subway to Latin Grammy and Grammy level. Indestructible is a platter of high-powered collaborations, well-chosen covers and original compositions that mix ranchera and reggae, bachata and cumbia, R&B and jazz, a flash of flamenco and a dollop of doo-wop. The main text is love—dreamy, enticing, elusive—while the subtexts of cultural mosaic and empowered women so vibrantly embodied in these uplifting voices also emerge onto the tracks. No Sigas (Don’t Speak) is a rousing version of a breakup classic originally written and performed in English (video 1). To appropriately honor Quisiera (I Would Like…) by the legendary Juan Luis Guerra, the ladies team with John Legend—who sings in Spanish (video 2). La Andariega (The Wanderer) describes a lover’s passionate return: “Forgive my tardiness, I beg you/Forgive the wanderer who now offers you her heart” (video 3). Flor de Toloache’s members have myriad roots—Mexican, Puerto Rican, Cuban, Dominican, among others—and fluently channel the characters in El Corrido de David y Goliat (The Ballad of David and Goliath), about a standoff between an immigrant and an abusive lawman (video 4). Just as smoothly, they personify Indestructible‘s title song, a tribute to feminine strength that’s not the least bit imaginary. (One RPM)

Flor de Toloache: Indestructible
Mireya Ramos:  Lead vocals, backing vocals, violin, guitarrón
Shae Fiol: Lead vocals, backing vocals, vihuela, guitar, minor percussion
Julie Acosta: Lead vocals, backing vocals, trumpet

Yesenia Reyes: Guitarrón
Vaneza Mari Calderon: Guitarrón
Amanda Lozano: Guitarrón
Elena Lacayo: Guitarrón
Noemi Gasparini: Violin
Jackie Coleman: Trumpet
Andy Averbuch: Electric guitar
Rafa Sardina: Keys
Matt Rollings: Keys
Yasser Tejada: Electric guitar
Raul Bier: Bongo, güira

Note. Indestructible was nominated for a 2020 Grammy in the Best Latin Rock, Urban or Alternative Album category. Flor de Toloache’s previous album, Las Caras Lindas, won the 2017 Latin Grammy for Best Ranchero/Mariachi Album.

Related post. Flor de Toloache: Las Caras Lindas, Listening Post 150, May 15, 2018
https://worldlisteningpost.com/2018/05/15/flor-de-toloache-las-caras-lindas/

Opening quotations
“All you need is love”—John Lennon
“Immigrants strengthen the fabric of American life”—John F. Kennedy
“A woman is like a tea bag – you never know how strong she is until you put her in hot water”—Eleanor Roosevelt

 

No Sigas / Don’t Speak
Lyrics & Music: Gwen Stefani and Eric Stefani

(From the Spanish lyrics)
You and me/
We shared our own world together
So close, I sensed, forever/Always
I feel like/I’m losing my best friend
I can’t believe/This could be
The end

The sun is setting/We’ve lost the glow
And if it’s real/I just don’t want to know

Don’t speak/I know just what you’re saying
So you can stop explaining/Don’t tell me because it hurts
Don’t speak/I agree with everything
If I cry, it’s not for the reason you’re thinking/It’s just that the truth hurts

Our love/It’s dangerous memory
The sweet treachery/Casts a spell

The sun is setting/We’ve lost the glow
And if it’s real/I just don’t want to know

Don’t speak/I know just what you’re saying
So you can stop explaining/Don’t tell me because it hurts
Don’t speak/I agree with everything
If I cry, it’s not for the reason you’re thinking/It’s just that the truth hurts

Let’s not continue/Living this lie
The sun is setting/We’ve lost the glow
And if it’s real/I just don’t want to know

 

Quisiera / I Would Like…
Lyrics & Music: Juan Luis Guerra 

I’d like to be the song that cheers you up/I’d like to be the curls in your hair
I’d like to be your seventh sense/I’d like to be your third eye’s dream
I would like…

I’d like for you to talk to me when you’re silent/Or at least to be the knot in your throat
I’d like to be the chair that supports your body/The box where you keep your hidden kisses

And to light up your dawn/And to knead your night
And to go out with you, disguised as the horizon

I’d like to do that and so many other things/I’d like to be that and so many other things
I would like… I would like…

I’d like to be the sparkle if your eyes/The calcium your vitamins give you
Your path when you cross through the fog/And the laces in your shoes

And to walk with you and turn the corners together/And to grow guavas and dream of a thousand details
See through your eyes/Cheer your name
And go out with you disguised as the horizon

I’d like to do that and so many other things
I’d like to be that and so many other things

 

La Andariega / The Wanderer
Original Lyrics & Music: Álvaro Carrillo Alarcón / Additional Lyrics: Julie Acosta
Tamacun (instrumental)
Music: Gabriela Quintero & Rodrigo Sanchez 

Once the passing bird of love/Once the butterfly of a thousand flowers
Today I feel nostalgia for your arms
For your beautiful eyes/For your sweet love

Neither chains nor tears bound me/But today I feel peaceful and calm
Forgive my tardiness, I beg you/Forgive the wanderer who now offers you her heart

Only your heart
If you refuse me, I’ll keep walking/Looking for another sun
In silence you will say a prayer/And, for God’s sake, forget me later

There are absences that succeed/And ours triumphed
Let us love each other now in peace/The Peace that was once denied us
And when I die, neither light nor cry/Neither mourning nor anything else
Next to my cross I want only peace

Only your heart
If you refuse me, I’ll keep walking/Looking for another sun
In silence you will say a prayer/And, for God’s sake, forget me later

Only your heart, if you remember my love
Or I’ll keep walking, looking for another sun
In silence you will say a prayer/And, for God’s sake, forget me later

 

El Corrido de David y Goliat / The Ballad of David and Goliath
Lyrics: Pepe Aguilar Guízar/Music: Shae Fiol & Mireya Ramos

A gringo called Goliath, his last name O’Conner
He hurt a lot of people/Supposedly he was a law enforcer
He only joined Immigration so he could deport you/How badly he abused the people

He knew that poor people/Didn’t know the laws
So he abused them/Fishing for any illegal
Real or imagined

One day there was a great raid/In a Latino neighborhood
Goliath with all his troops/Screaming for everyone to come out
Threatening to deport them all

In one of the many houses/Lived David and his family
But he knew the law/So he didn’t go outside:
“Without a search warrant/Officer you should move along”

Goliath was furious/He banged on the door
Asking for everyone’s papers/“Everyone respects me,” he shouted
David refused to open the door/And they entered by force

David, his wife and three children/Were all taken away
They stayed calm/They signed no papers
They answered no questions/Even though they were threatened

David had prepared/Knowing this might happen one day
He had spoken to his family/He kept his documents in a safe place

His community helped him/He and his family were all released
Their arrest was illegal/Lawyers helped him
The case was thrown out/David knew the law
And Goliath was fired

 

 

 


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