"Ximena Sariñana," Ximena Sariñana

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

source: XimenaMusic.com
I hadn't heard of Ximena Sariñana until her latest (self-titled) album, but she's had quite a long history in show business. Aside from a Latin Grammy-nominated debut album, "Mediocre," she was a child star in Mexico, starring in a number of telenovelas. Her self-titled album -- also her first English-language album -- seems preternatural to me on a number of levels.

Image-wise, as with this album, Ximena Sariñana the person is a walking contradiction: she is young and old all at once, her music full of dreamy childlike-ness while her lyrics indicate otherwise. At 25 years old, she has the physicality of a teenager, but her words betray her. Her musical style is eclectic, dipping into what seems to be a mostly European aesthetic with its electro beats and blips, though there it is certainly infused with a rousing dose of jazz. Altogether, her lyrics give the listener a dose of reality amidst the ethereal melodies and sounds.

Sariñana's leading single, "Different," is a lively introduction to her quirky, upbeat music, though much of the rest of the album tilts in a slightly more despondent (and certainly languorous) direction. What I like most about this album is that although it is altogether upbeat, there is something edgy or dark about most of the songs. The combination of Ximena's sometimes squawky (when not sweet and angelic) voice and the quirky music reminds me of much of the music that was popular in the early 2000s, like Imogen Heap, Frou Frou, Zero 7, even Regina Spektor. But while Frou Frou and Zero 7's music was, at least to me, always more about the mood and ambience, Ximena's music is conventional enough that it doesn't serve as a distraction to her intriguing lyrics ("Bringing Us Down" has great lyrics).

The one criticism I have of this album is that the electro-based beats and components of the music (admittedly not typically my cup of tea) are so inorganic and steady that the songs can lack dynamics. The music itself is very layered and complex, but maybe that's the problem -- it's easy to forget not to slip into a reverie while listening to this album because the beat is so regular and mechanical, it becomes dronelike. Still, "Ximena Sariñana" is an incredibly listenable album, a step away from the conventional stuff while still staying comfortably within pop.

Here are some of my favorites: "The Bid," "Bringing Us Down," "Common Ground," "Echo Park," "Different" and "Tú y Yo" ...





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