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World Music CD Reviews Greater Latin America

SARA VALENZUELA

By Tom Jackson
Published June 27, 2006

Lado Este
Nacional

A distant echo of thunder transmogrifies into a rumbling bass and a slack, trip-hop beat, is topped by a whispery, confidential Spanish vocal that recalls the glory days of St Etienne or Dubstar. Only better sung. It’s not just on the opening of Lado Este’s title track that Sara Valenzuela’s voice gets under your skin. For her first outing as a solo artist, the ex-frontwoman of successful Mexican alt rock act La Dosis has set up camp in New York and secured the services of a stellar band including downtown scenesters Marc Ribot and Melvin Gibbs on guitar and bass, while Dougie Bowne takes care of production. Together they fix up as confident a confection of sophisticated adult pop as you could wish for. With one eye on the lounge, it’s a slick sound but Valenzuela never loses her engaging directness. Shifting gears, there are junglist beats on “Tócame” and a shot of powerpop on “Nada Será Igual,” all finished with an integrity and decorum that is hugely attractive. Even the dance mix bonus tracks ooze a sangfroid and a catwalk cool.