In the midst of the hipster rush to chase vaguardism, we’re forgetting about the voice as a root and an element of pop music’s soundscape. Let’s face it, aside from the latest Latin Pop chanteuses (Natalia, Ximena, Francisca & Carla), we don’t have much of a vocal backbone lately. My argument is not to comment on an ethnic blockage, it’s rather, a nostalgic memory of a vocally militant past. Tijuana’s singer-songwriter Orlando comes to soothe much of my concern regarding vocals, the guy simply has one of the best vocal instruments in today’s pop. Not to say he’s the most excellent singer out there, but combined with creative songwriting, rich textured atmosphere and sexy strings, Orlando’s debut album is one not to be missed. The fact that he’s decided to call himself simply ‘Orlando’ in times when identity directs to a google search. This is an indication of his authorship and refined classicism.
Orlando is not afraid of making sweet, on-your-face pop music, something no singer-songwriter should be concerned about, but most do. Aside from his voice, Orlando also serves from strings to craft beautiful melodies. We can agree this is a dangerous, conventional approach, but when there’s something to say or a feeling to transport, things turn for the better. This is exactly what happens with Capullo, a shining breakthrough full of mystery ready for its emotional discharge. Capullo’s first single “Solo Dios Sabe” is a monumental piece on existentialism; the way it finds its own mechanism to go from a beat to a string and vice versa is amazing, and the way he extends his voice near the end of the song simply spectacular.
There’s something about this album that reminds me of cuckoo clocks, so fragile and gorgeous looking that one forgets about the painful war of waking up. Much of Capullo is in this way, very mechanical, but only to the point of reaching its own romanticism. The opening song “Donde Va” is the album’s first dose of bittersweet brilliance, “pa’ que sienta el corazon, pa’ que sienta… donde esta el amor.” Orlando makes round songs, but he leaves unresolved parts for the listener to draw to a close. In songs like “El Infinito” and “Tres Deseos”, he sounds some of the early folksy songs from Gepe or Coiffeur, but again, with a more polished voice. Orlando is closer to Anthony and The Johnsons and Tom Waits in this regard.
Towards the middle of the album, Capullo struggles a bit to find coherence from one track to the next, but near the end, we get two amazing songs that make up for it. “Tu Tinta En Mi Sangre” is my runner up for best song in the album. The song reaches a level of sophistication hard to find in Latin Pop. Lyrically, it’s probably the most complex track; it’s a confession on relationships, faith and body fluids. The final track, “Puede Ser” is a haunting little jam that you’ll find yourself singing in perfect tune, it’s that welcoming. A shining and firm debut by Orlando, another one of those artists with the caliber to crossover into mainstream, we need songs like these on radio.