Published Oct 01, 2019Even if you neglected to listen to a single lyric, ¡Spangled! still comes off as a powerful political statement. Performed by 37-year old Guatemala City singer-songwriter Gaby Moreno, and 76-year old Mississippi composer Van Dyke Parks, the ten-track LP shows the duo recreating music from the Americas, melding together disparate but similar genres while showcasing Latin songwriters.
As Parks — an iconic musical arranger who's worked with Randy Newman, Harry Nilsson and most famously, the Beach Boys — gives these songs a rich and celebratory sound, Moreno keeps the tracks grounded, playing tribute to exotic genres such as joropo (the traditional "Alma Llanera") tropicália (Gilberto Gil's "Esperando Na Janela") and Mexican show tunes ("Nube Gris" by Pedro Infante).
Even when they take on English songs by Ry Cooder ("Across the Borderline") and Cilla Black ("I'll Take a Tango"), Gaby Moreno and Van Dyke Parks manage to make ¡Spangled! sound less like a musically themed project and more like a labour of love. (Nonesuch)