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Music Review: Linda Ronstadt – Canciones de mi Padre

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Linda Ronstadt’s musical journey continued to evolve and change with the passage of time. It began during the mid-sixties as folk/pop, added some country into the mix and then moved in a rock direction. During the mid-1980s she released a trilogy of American pop standard albums and during early 1987, along with friends Dolly Parton and Emmylou Harris, released the straight country album Trio which topped the country charts for five weeks.

So what was left? She decided to explore her Mexican heritage. Canciones de mi Padre is an album of traditional Mexican music with the focus upon a Mariachi style. It would continue her huge commercial popularity selling over two million copies and ultimately becoming the best non-English selling album in American music history. It would also garner her another Grammy Award.

Her voice is always central to her albums. As she entered her early forties it remained a powerful and beautiful instrument. She now added emotion and passion to the mix as the material was important to her. The title was taken from a booklet written by her aunt during the mid-forties. She is one of those artists who could sing the phone book but here the emotion resonates through all the tracks.

The original vinyl release gives a better overall picture of the album and recording process than does the CD releases down through the years. A pamphlet contains the lyrics in English plus she gives the background of each song and why she chose to include them on the album. This gives the record a more intimate feel which many of the CDs are lacking.

She is backed by guitar, percussion, flute, violin, trumpet, tuba, and harmonica which combine for a traditional sound and style. Songs such as “Por Un Amor,” “Tu Solo Tu,” “Dos Arbolitos,” “La Calandria,” “El Sol Que Tu Eres,” and eight more explore the themes of pain, loss, reflection, and love.

Through a series of ballads and serenades Linda Ronstadt explores her cultural heritage with passion. Canciones de mi Padre was an important project for her and while I may continue to mainly play her rock and pop material on a regular basis, this album should be respected and as such earn a listen every now and then.

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