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World Music CD Reviews Greater Latin America

Sones De Mexico Ensemble

By Nils Jacobson
Published January 28, 2008

Esta Tierra Es Tuya
Sones de Mexico

At first glance, one would expect this inspired, wide-ranging collection of traditional songs to have originated in Mexico’s heartland—instead, it comes from a quintet of paisanos in Chicago, which makes a whole lot more sense after a close listening session places the music in context. The Spanish lyrics of the title song (a cover of Woody Guthrie’s “This Land Is Your Land”) apply perfectly to today’s Mexican-American immigration situation aptly enough, it’s served up in the festive, accordion-driven norteño style from just south of the border. The rest of the music—performed on a dizzying array of 70 instruments, including 16 different guitars and twice as many percussion instruments—is fine-tuned to regional styles like son huasteco (with falsetto vocals), son jarocho (featuring the guitarlike jarana) and old-school mariachi dance music (with strings, not brass). All in all, this celebration of tradition and identity is about as good as it gets.