Ersi Arvizu–Friend For Life–Anti
Ersi Arvizu is a voice from the past. Not in the dust-and-mothballs fashion, but in that tugging, gooseflesh-raising way - something wholly familiar yet seductively un-pinpointable. Her voice is a trigger, prompting associations - shaggy avocado trees, a mother's perfume, resin, gym sweat or black-top-tar. All of it's there in its worn grooves, its pitched valleys. Line-by-line, verse-by-verse, it's a voice that threads you back to something thought completely faded: a wood-frame house with a long-driveway, a party in motion, a moment - a lost feeling - somehow intact, frozen in time. In the mid-70s, as the lead singer of El Chicano (her signature, "Sabor a Mi"), Arvizu and the band came to be known as one of the premier ambassadors of the East Los Angeles sound - an amalgam of all it grew up around - rock, jazz, R&B and scattered mementoes from unexpected places and times - Latin rhythms, echoes of boleros and the swirling arabesques of the Hammond B3. But the territory and its stories live deep inside her voice - one that is eyes-in-the-back-of-the-head-knowing with more than a little fight in it. "I come from a musical family. Singers. My mother always humming songs on the radio. And they were all in Spanish," says Arvizu, "But that's how I learned: "Get Daddy's guitar and I'll teach you. First how to strum and then the fingering on the neck . . . " These fine points - large and small, both in lyrics and in musical motifs - form the foundation of Arvizu's new album, "Friend For Life." It is a trip through those old environs, made new, in a dozen autobiographical songs - sung both in Spanish and English - the greater part co-written by Arvizu and her collaborator, keyboardist, Joey Navarro; the album produced by Ry Cooder.
RIYL: El Chicano, Buena vista Social Club, Chavez Ravine, Ry Cooder
TRY: #1, 2, 3, 6
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