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Music Review: Ximena Sariñana – Mediocre

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By melding notes of jazz and indie rock together, Mexico’s Ximena Sariñana has crafted an entrance so compelling that Rolling Stone called it “one of the strongest debuts from a female singer-songwriter since Norah Jones' Come Away With Me.” Sariñana’s debut record, Mediocre, comes after an extensive career in television and film acting.

Born to movie director Fernando Sariñana and screenwriter Carolina Rivera, Ximena’s future was written in the stars. While many actress-to-singer/songwriter transitions don’t exactly pan out for the best these days, Sariñana’s spirit and allegiance to the art of entertaining is hard to resist.

Mediocre may seem like a strange title at first, especially when one discovers just how damn good this record is. But Ximena actually means to condemn mediocrity and conventionality. In describing the title song at the Latin Alternative Music Conference in Manhattan, she explained, “This whole idea of the perfect woman of the ‘50s is what the title song is about. There was no possibility of being something different, and that, in turn, created a prototype of a woman who was mediocre.”

One spin of Mediocre shatters the archetype, as Sariñana’s skill and emotion pours into the songs. She is a striking singer, hitting all the right notes and enunciating the Spanish lyrics gracefully.

A dash of guitar opens the record with the rock balladry of the title track. Listen to the emotion in her vocals as she soars in the chorus, leaving no doubt that this is what Ximena Sariñana was born to do and this is the song she was destined to create.

That feeling carries through Mediocre, creating one of the most natural-sounding pieces of work I’ve ever had the pleasure of listening to. When Ximena wants to rock, she rocks. When she wants to jazz it up, she does just that. When she wants to dabble in electronica, like on the stunning “La Tina,” she owns it. Sariñana is a vision of musical heroism, an undeniable force in Mexican indie pop and rock that has only just begun her path to world domination.

“Un Error” rolls out like a smoky torch song, featuring light piano from Héctor Castillo (the engineer behind Björk's Volta). The smart tone is enthralling, and Sariñana pulls out all the stops with every convincing phrase.

The ambient beauty of “Monitor” seals the record with a heart-rending chorus that swells with wrenching beauty. And “Sintiendo Rara” is a funky and sensual groove led by Sariñana sexy vocals. The instruments stack and swell towards the finish, adding piano accents to the gorgeous concoction of melodious bliss.

Mediocre has taken a spot in history as the fastest-selling debut in Mexican history. With two Latin Grammy nominations, along with an American Grammy nomination, this is one stellar record. Filled with gorgeous vocals, diverse rhythms, impeccable instrumentations, and catchy songwriting, Mediocre is an incredible debut for this marvellous entertainer. 

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