Early this spring, Barcelona,Spain-based outfit Jenny & The Mexicats released its latest full-length studio recording to the masses. The album, Open Sea, is the band’s third full-length studio effort and was released independently via the band’s own Mexicat Records. Full discretion moving forward, this record is this critic’s first introduction to the group and its music. Coming from that vantage point, it proves to be a record worth the listen. That is due in part to the songs’ arrangements. This will be discussed shortly. The record’s companion booklet plays its own pivotal part in the record’s overall presentation, too. It will be discussed later. The record’s sequencing rounds out its most important elements. Each element is important in its own right to the record’s whole. Altogether, they make Open Sea a record into which any listener will want to dive.
Jenny and the Mexicats’ latest full-length studio recording Open Sea is a record into which any World Music aficionado will want to dive. That is because it stands out so much from its counterparts in that genre. It stands out in part thanks to the musical arrangements exhibited over the course of its 13 songs. From start to finish, the arrangements are never repeated. From the album’s opener ‘La Primera Despidida’ to its follow-up ‘Boxes’ to ‘Amplifire’ and beyond, the songs’ arrangements display a wide range of musical styles that are sure to entertain audiences in any corner of the globe. The record’s opener presents an upbeat, pop-rock style arrangement while ‘Boxes’’ acoustic, guitar-driven arrangement presents an arrangement that is clearly more regionally-influenced. Though, at the same time, that arrangement couples with singer Jenny Ball Volz’s vocal delivery is likely to conjure thoughts of similar works from Shakira. The group doesn’t stop there. ‘Amplifire,’ with its laid back arrangement, could be argued to be infused, to a point, with a reggae influence. As if that is not enough, ‘Under My Skin’ boasts an arrangement that can best be compared to so many R&B works. ‘Born in the City’ is another key example of the musical diversity displayed throughout this album. Its guitar-driven arrangement is a light, jazzy composition that will easily have listeners on their feet in no time. One could easily prattle on about the rest of the songs exhibited here. The fact of the matter is that, as already noted, no two arrangements in this record are the same. Each song presents its own musical identity, making the record enjoyable if only for its arrangements. Of course the arrangements are not the only collective positive point to this album. Its companion booklet is critical to its overall presentation, too.
The diversity in Open Seas’ musical arrangements is a critical piece of the album’s overall presentation. That is because none of the arrangements repeat from start to finish. From one song to the next, each arrangement gives the song its own musical identity that is distinct from its counterparts. Keeping that in mind, that diversity is just one of the album’s key elements. The companion booklet that comes with the album is just as important to discuss in examining the album’s overall presentation as the songs’ arrangements. The booklet is so important because it presents lyrics for each of the album’s featured songs. Some of the songs are thankfully sung in English, and their lyrics printed in English, too. In the same vein, the songs sung in Spanish are complimented with clearly printed Spanish lyrics in the booklet. On the surface, that might not seem overly important. In the bigger picture of the album’s presentation though, it is highly critical, especially in trying to expand the album’s reach in the Western, English-speaking world. Having the lyrics printed out to every song will allow audiences who don’t speak Spanish to type up said lyrics in one of any online translator services to learn what is being sung. Case in point ‘Ausencia,’ which translates to ‘Absence’ in English. Volz sings in this song, ‘I got carried away/I still decided to jump/By a precipice/And clash with this reality/So that to endure all lusts/to wait if everything/And it is said so that/if we do not last more/so that since…” This is obviously a rough translation from one of those many translators. Hopefully it is a close translation. Regardless, it is a starting point. Without the lyrics printed (even in Spanish), even beginning to try to translate the lyrics would have been a proverbial wild goose chase, making for far less reason to give the album even one chance. Having those and other lyrics presented throughout the booklet though, gives reason to give the record a chance. That chance might even lead to an appreciation for the album by some. Keeping this in mind, the lyrics provided in the booklet are not the last of the record’s most important elements. The album’s sequencing rounds out its most important elements.
The musical arrangements at the center of Open Sea and the lyrics printed in the record’s companion booklet are both pivotal pieces of the record’s overall presentation. That has already been noted. They are not, though, the record’s only important elements. Its overall sequencing is important to its whole, too. As has already been noted, Open Sea presents a wide range of styles throughout its collective body. The energies in those arrangements clearly were taken into consideration in the record’s sequencing. The up-tempo arrangements presented in the album’s first three arrangements makes for a solid start before the group pulls back a little bit in ‘Aprendimos.’ The record’s energy picks back up immediately after in the full-throttle dance work ‘La Diabla.’ ‘Lion’ really changes the pace with its bluesy, mid-tempo arrangement. The record’s energy moves up and down just as much as the record progresses through its second half, with equal amounts of upbeat and reserved material right to the end. The mood changes just enough from one song to the next to keep things interesting right to the record’s end. The end result is a 13-song sequence that will keep listeners engaged and entertained. That is especially the case when considering the songs’ arrangements alongside the sequencing. The addition of the songs’ lyrics printed in the record’s companion booklet solidifies the album’s presentation, ensuring even more its place among this year’s field of new World Music offerings. All three elements combine together to make Open Sea a record into which any listener will want to dive.
Jenny & The Mexicats’ latest full-length studio recording Open Sea is a recording into which any listener will want to dive. That is regardless of listeners’ familiarity with the group and its body of work, including this critic. That statement is supported by the varied arrangements presented throughout the record’s 13 songs and their equally varied energies. The record’s sequencing clearly takes into consideration those arrangements and energies. Add in the availability of the songs’ lyrics in the record’s companion booklet, and the whole of this album proves to be worth the listen. Considering all of this, Open Sea proves to be a record to which every listener should be open. It is available online now. More information on Open Sea is available online now along with all of the group’s latest news at:
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