Because I know very little Spanish, I’m not the best source of information about Lila Downs: the extraordinary Mexican-American singer whose rich voice and fierce love of the traditions of Mexico is a cultural asset on both sides of the border. Nonetheless, and though I am missing out on a good deal of what her latest album offers, it’s still richer in delight than most albums where the entire experience is accessible.
One of the best nights of live music I ever experienced was a few years ago when I saw the remarkable Ms. Downs perform at U.C. Davis in a show that was culturally vital, visually exciting, and musically perfect. To say she was amazing is to say too little; if you haven’t heard of her, you owe it to yourself to fill that gap in your knowledge. She’s a marvel, with an extraordinary vocal range and a degree of vocal control that can surprise even a jaded music aficionado. She’s also sexy as hell. On Pescados y Milagros, she delivers the goods: a cornucopia of color and heritage and vocal embellishments that make the music of Mexico come alive, even for those of us who often may not understand every word she sings. The emotions are universal, however, and require no translation.