Combine the vibrant energy of traditional Mexican music with the lyrical earnestness and free flowing vocals of classic folk and you will arrive at Y La Bamba’s latest record, Ojos Del Sol. A departure from the band’s last stripped-down, folk-pop record, Oh February, Ojos Del Sol is a blaring call for self discovery and a vulnerable glimpse into the inner depths of the group’s front woman, Luz Elena Mendoza.
As a child of Mexican immigrants, Latin American music and a strong sense of community were woven into Mendoza’s upbringing in Southern Oregon. These two influences went hand-in-hand in the creation of Ojos Del Sol, with songs like “Nos Veremos” and “Libre” focusing on fostering connections not only within one’s community, but with the earth, sky and all of its surroundings.
“Behind the record’s deeply personal lyricism lies a bed of wonderfully experimental sounds and instrumentation. New-age guitars and synths are steeped in the traditional elements of percussion that have been enjoyed for hundreds of years.”
While some of the album’s themes are opaque and open to interpretation, they’re brought back to center through Mendoza’s willingness to share her personal story. Sprinkling intimate lyrics throughout the album, Mendoza explains her metamorphosis with a lifetime of personal truths and details. Nestled between a sunny guitar and strong, confident drums in “Kali,” Mendoza sings, “To know yourself is to lose everything” -- suggesting that suffering and hardship brings us closer to finding our true selves.
Behind the record’s deeply personal lyricism lies a bed of wonderfully experimental sounds and instrumentation. New-age guitars and synths are steeped in the traditional elements of percussion that have been enjoyed for hundreds of years. Mendoza’s voice itself is an instrument, gracefully floating between registers, “which gives her bicultural storytelling an almost otherworldly feel,” according to NPR.
At its core, Ojos Del Sol is a wonderfully unique tale of identity and the human condition. For the optimal listening experience, remove judgement, distraction, inhibition, and let the music take you on a journey of self discovery.
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“Libre” is a vibrant testament to Luz Elena Mendoza’s Mexican heritage, free-form songwriting mastery and consistent theme of self discovery. Comprised of playful electric guitar, worldly drums and a lush choir of female vocalists, the song explores the connection between humans, nature and the spiritual world. Aside from the obvious message of unity and wholeness, the song leaves the listener with one simple and universal takeaway: vive libre -- “live free.” Whether you’re driving down the coast on a sunny day or entrenched in your daily routine, let this song be a reminder that life is short and the choice to live free is ours.