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Mon Laferte is back, with a stunning take on Mexican music

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Chilean singer-songwriter Mon Laferte is the kind of artist who can shift with ease from covering Metallica one moment to performing a heart-wrenching bolero. Since the beginning of her career, she has explored a variety of genres, with songs that range from folk-infused rock to "música cebolla," a Chilean genre that highlights lyrics of romance and sorrow.

Her powerful vocal delivery and commanding stage presence have made her one of the most popular female artists in Latin America. Laferte, who has been living in Mexico since 2007, is now back in the United States, touring for the sixth time in support of her new release, "Seis."

"This album is very much about Mexican music," Laferte says by phone the day after a sold-out show in Los Angeles. "I live in a little town, Tepoztlán, a magical place. Stuck at home amid the pandemic, I connected with Mexican folklore and made these new songs."

The 14 tracks on "Seis" mark a new direction from her previous album, the 2019 Latin Grammy-winning "Norma." Where "Norma" incorporated big-band-style arrangements, salsa and electronic flourishes, "Seis" is, for the most part, Laferte's stunning take on Mexican music.

"It isn't only mariachi," Laferte says. "I tried to showcase music from different regions." In "Seis," there are collaborations with La Arrolladora Banda El Limón de René Camacho, a brass ensemble from Sinaloa, and with Mujeres del Viento Florido, an orchestra formed by Indigenous Oaxacan women. Irreverent, soulful and self-assured, Laferte nails every note on "Seis" with style and originality.

The album's standout track, "Que Se Sepa Nuestro Amor," is a duet with iconic Mexican singer Alejandro Fernández. Opening with eruptive horns and accordion tones, the song tells the story of a flourishing romance, narrated by Laferte and Fernández with impeccable passion. The chorus, with its electrifying pauses, highlights Laferte's love for grand gestures.

"I think I have a natural thing for acting, for interpreting my songs to the max," Laferte says. Her dramatic and moving renditions often result in massive audience singalongs. She views her songs as a universe that she wants to convey to her audience, and rather than using technology or special effects, she relies on performance and narrative.

"I write my songs, which are my life story, and I like telling stories," she says. "I can play salsa, or super traditional Mexican music. ... I like playing and using sounds to tell a story. Above all, I'd say that I'm a singer-songwriter."

Her contemporary approach to reinterpreting traditional Latin genres positions her at the forefront of a new generation of Latin musicians. With her distinctive voice, Laferte sets herself apart.

 

 

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