Kany García’s Soy Yo, released almost exactly a year ago, was a beautiful collection of intimate songs set to lush arrangements that traversed a world of emotions, from loss and yearning to nationalism and equality. Nominated for album of the year at the Latin Grammys, it may have been García’s best studio set. Until now, that is.
On her new album, Contra El Viento, out today (May 17), García ups the ante by integrating commentary from nearly a dozen Latin women — from her mother to actress Sofía Vergara — as the framework for a deep dive into a full range of a personal evolution that goes from loss and disillusionment to self-awareness, rebirth and finally, love again.
The glue that binds it all together are the short spoken-word intros, reflections on life and love that Garcia asked her guests (which also include Natalia LaFourcade, Thalia and Rozalen) to record specifically for this project after listening to them in original interviews.
The result is an album of great songs, highlighting a brand of feminism that is powerful in its openness and vulnerability. Here are six essential tracks:
“Así voy yo” (I Come Like This): A defiant, but joyous anthem of self-assertion, the opening “Asi voy yo” describes a woman who is an imperfect product of our Latin countries, but who is also beautiful and radiant. While Garcia’s introspection often takes intimate turns in her music, opting for the pared-down and acoustic, “Asi so yo” goes in a different direction, with big – though not overbearing — orchestration. Elements such as an accordion bring an authentic tango influence into the mix.
“Remamos” (We Row): Legendary late Argentinian singer/activist Mercedes Sosa sets the stage for this one with powerful words: “I think of human beings. I think of injustice. Had I not thought about these things, I would have been an ordinary singer.” A contrast to “Asi voy yo,” “Remamos” is a different kind of self-affirmation, one that looks deep inside one’s soul to accept the need to “return” to what’s been learned and “relearn.” A gentle ballad that soars in the chorus over a cushion of strings, “Remamos” elevates García’s singing, exposing her vocals and highlighting harmonies.
“Me mudé” (I Moved): García is great at songs that celebrate life and lust after failed loves. In this album, it’s “Te mudé,” an acknowledgement that life is better without that destructive lover. But “Te mudé,” with an intro from García’s mother, is also a permission to move on from any negative influence.
“Quédate” (Stay): The first of two duets on the album is with Garcia’s good frined and fellow singer/songwriter Tommy Torres, with an intro on risking it all for love by Thalia. The song is beautiful in its simple melody and harmonies, with sparse guitar arrangements.
“Mundo inventado”: Garcia is melodic, even when she’s at her most political. “Mundo inventado” (Made Up World) begins with an intro from a female immigrant then launches into, of all things, a waltz in 6/8 time, a whimsical rhythm for a serious reflection that lends new meaning to the song’s title.
“Las palabras” (The Words): Garcia sets the stage for the grand finale by reminding us that “One word can change your life’s path.” How apropos, then, that Garcia has paired up with another wordsmith, Fito Paez, in this conversation between friends that’s an ode to words and lyricism against the backdrop of Paez’s bluesy piano.