Se Puede, Varias Artistas
by Andrew Casillas
In the interests of complete transparency, I must disclose that I am a huge believer in the theory that women should sing every song. It’s not very hard to rationalize (I mean, even I can see why this isn’t a good idea), but most pop songs affect emotions which women typically approach idiosyncratically, differing from case-to-case. Topics like heartbreak, confusion, frustration, boredom, infatuation, jealousy, etc. which are almost rote in the pop songwriting landscape (with good cause, obviously) can sound reinvigorated by even the most fey female pop singer in a way that a similarly dainty lad could arguably not compete with. Of course, these are solely my opinions and my opinions alone. In fact, I haven’t really found many other subscribers to this “theory,” but it appears that I have an ally in Lucas Martí. Four years ago, the prolific Argentinean singer-songwriter formed Varias Artistas, an ambitious project showcasing some of the finest and most buzzworthy female singers in the Latin pop landscape.
Varias Artistas second collection, Se Puede, continues the momentum Martí established with the first album, Papá (Popart, 2007). However, where the first record was seemingly focused on influencing a non-starter of a gender politics debate with its song collaborations and subject matter, Se Puede is a far more celebratory affair, reveling in the sheer talent at its disposal. Indeed, the intonation from track-to-track shifts like the tide off of a coastal wave. Sometimes the rhythms can be quite simple and placated, such as on Noelia Mourier’s effective title track, before quickly lifting its shirtsleeves for gritty, more confident numbers like Emme’s “El Día del Zarpado.” The mix as a whole runs the heady gamut from precociously coy to sexually charged, and at no point does it ever feel disarmingly jarring.
Mood is only part of the collection’s appeal, however. Luckily, there are more than enough real songs on here to keep this from being a mere museum piece. First and foremost are the twin highlights from the two most high-profile artists on the disc. Julieta Venegas and Javiera Mena deliver songs from seemingly opposite ends of the universe. The former’s contribution, “Actues Como Hombre” is full of the imaginative wit and deft cadence that are a hallmark of her best songs, while the latter submits “Ya No Quieras Comprenderio Todo” a bubbly yet almost sensuous piece of slick electro-pop (emphasis on “pop”). Following in their footsteps are infectiously interesting tracks like Daniela Herrero’s “Convoy” (who doesn’t love songs that have banjos that sound like trains?), Paula Meijide’s brisk, charming “Tu Momento,” or Naila Borensztein’s “Carne Humana” which is an OK song in itself except for the parts that sound like the most METAL SHIT EVER.
Really, the only thing that holds Se Puede back from greatness is the lack of consistency in song quality throughout. There are certainly enough highs on the record to make this a worthwhile addition to your collection, but you’ll be pressed to remember a few of these songs after repeated listens. Whether this is due to lackluster production (“No No No”), song selection (“Que Fuerte”), or, most unfortunately, singing (“Cursos de Corrupcion”), the wasted opportunities drag down the affair a bit. In the long run, though, these are minor matters. Martí has seen this Varias Artistas project develop into something quite promising, and into something that smart and keen fans of outside-the-box pop music will hopefully have to look forward to for years to come. And hell, he may someday even prove my theory.
Se Puede, Varias Artistas