Francisca Valenzuela - Buen Soldado

Buen Soldado,
FRANCISCA VALENZUELA

Feria Music, Chile
Rating: 72

by Enrique Coyotzi


Daughter of Chilean parents and born in San Francisco, California, Francisca Valenzuela moved to Chile at the age of 12. There she received heavy media coverage in 2007 with Muérdete la Lengua, a debut that showcased the multi-instrumentalist’s praiseworthy skills and scathing teenage-angst lyrics. The album's bitter adolescent tone made it an instant hit that established Valenzuela as a national sensation. With her sophomore effort, Buen Soldado, the artist’s notorious thirst for musical expansion, just like her immersion in social thematic issues, reveal a more grown-up work in multiple terms that denotes an admirable maturity.

Similar to Julieta Venegas’ transition from menacing alt-rocker to sweet pop rock princess, Valenzuela’s compositions have become more sugary and her lyrics less melodramatic. Produced by Canada's Mocky (Feist, Jamie Lidell) and Chile's Vicente Sanfuentes aka Original Hamster (Gepe, Señor Coconut), Buen Soldado is balanced between songs in this new upbeat direction and calmer, piano-based pieces. Whereas thematics about longing, spite, and solitude are still present, the songwriter has adopted a more serious facet, focusing on social aspects like unemployment, poverty, and national freedom. The singer’s approach in adopting male perspectives in some of these tracks is noteworthy, depicting a very rich imagery within the striking stories they narrate. Album opener "Buen Soldado" starts like an arid spaghetti-western epic that suddenly shows its '60s go-go inspirations. Here, Valenzuela comically assumes the point of view of a respected soldier with "un buen rabo" that has no problem in obtaining anything he desires, especially in the low-life bars he visits. The gloomy "Crónica" is a dismal tale about a man that commits murder in order to feed his family. In "Entrevista" the uncertainty about obtaining a job and anxiety of failing at a work interview are achingly captured, while "Salvador" exposes a citizen's desire to become a credible leader that directs his nation to a beneficent change.

Full of memorable choruses, incredible vocal delivery, and some of Francisca's best work (see the impossibly catchy "Quiero Verte Más" or moving friendship ode "Qué Sería"), the only problem to be found in Buen Soldado is in its inconsistency, musically and thematically. Ballads like "Corazón" or "En Mi Memoria," while beautiful, break the cheerful mood of the record, lyrically are sort of cheesy, and in essence would fit better on a Bat for Lashes or Cat Power album. Empowering songs for women, like "Mujer Modelo" and "Ésta Soy Yo," are equally amazing, although probably hard for a guy to relate to. Even though the topics in Buen Soldado are pretty mixed up, Francisca Valenzuela has managed to create a solid second record that, although not as ambitious as the work of some of her visionary compatriots (Javiera Mena, Fakuta), makes her a distinguished representative of the Chilean pop army.


5 comments :

1320 said...

Amé el 1er CD de Fran, pero este segundo CD me pareció inconsistente y más si lo comparamos con otros chilenos que también dierón segundas entregas (Javiera Mena, Denver).
Pero en él se encuentran grandes canciones como "Qué sería" y "Los qué siempre arrancan"; también hay una colaboración muy buena para el disco de Leonel García llamada "Al frío".

el amarillo said...

Totalmente de acuerdo!

Anonymous said...

I don't like Francisca's new CD nearly as much as her debut album. The debut album had a very clear message and mindset; it wasn't bogged down with cheesy lyrics or experimental sounds. Her first album was a solid 10 out of 10. I can listen to that album anytime and never grow tired of it.

As for Buen Soldado, I feel differently about the project as a whole.I don't listen to this CD all at once and constantly find myself skipping over about half of the album. Individually, some of the songs are absolutely perfect (Cronica, Corazon, Yo lo Busco), others are also pretty good like Que Seria and En Mi Memoria; however, the remainder is just a complete mess like Esta Soy Yo and Mujer Modelo. The album version of Salvador is an unfortunate when you hear the roughness and simplicity of the demo version. "Los Que Siempre Arracan" should have just been an upbeat piano tune in my opinion. Francisca is actually 1000X on her own with just a piano or guitar than she is with a band (on this album, anyway.)

As a whole, I feel like this album sucked out all of the simplicity and originally I often associate with her debut album. Lyrically, I didn't feel like these songs were nearly as strong as ones presented on her debut album. For one, I absolutely hate the corniness of lyrics for Quiero Verte Mas and Mujer Modelo.

Francisca is still a very talented musician and songwriter, however, I feel that for her next release, she should stick to the original formula of her debut album and be simpler; less is more. This album is forgettable and earns a 6 out of 10 from me. I agree with the reviewer too.

cArLita...!! said...

That's no true.....This new album is really good.In my opinion..she has matured as an artist

Anonymous said...

the album is absolutely perfect!
francisca should grow anywhere she wants. not where we tell her!

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