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World Music CD Reviews Greater Latin America

Ersi Arvisu

By Tad Hendrickson
Published June 13, 2008

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You’d have to dig pretty deep into a “where are they now” file to come across Ersi Arvizu. Part of a family singing group called the Sisters, this East L.A. fireball originally had a short career based in Southern California. Her deep smoky voice is nonetheless memorable as she lingers on words, wringing every ounce of emotion out of a lyric before moving on. Recently rediscovered by Ry Cooder during his Chavez Ravine sessions, Arvizu now returns (with Cooder at her side producing the album) with a gut-wrenching set that tells us what she’s been through. All isn’t happiness and light here, but it makes for great art—her tale (“En El Tambo”) of playing a gig at a prison is downright harrowing. More upbeat is the hard funkin’ “Cruisin’ To The Hop.” All in all, this is an unassuming album made with a startling honesty that should crack the façade of the most cynical music lover.