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World Music CD Reviews North American

LILA DOWNS

By Pilar Alvarez

One Blood/ Una Sangre
Narada

Mexican-American singer Lila Downs is the daughter of a Mixtec Indian mother and Anglo-American father, and she voices the hopes and struggles of both Mexican immigrants on this side of the border, and those of the indigenous peoples of Mexico. The diminutive singer, decked out in Indian finery and Frida Khalo-braids (she actually made a cameo in the 2003 biopic, Frida), is a formidable presence onstage; radiating moral authority and a hunger for social justice. 2004's One Blood/ Una Sangre explores the tangled connections of life on both sides of the border through her own funked-up version of Mexican cumbia. Down's originals can be alternately scathing and elegiac, while her covers, which include the Richie Valens classic "La Bamba" and the traditional "La Cucaracha" (given a reggae-fied twist here) are nothing less than inspired.