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World Music Features

“These songs come from my heart, my guts and my sex.”

Andrea Echeverri

By Eliseo Cardona
Published August 29, 2005

The iconoclastic singer and songwriter of alterna-punk Latin rockers Aterciopelados finds herself a new mother, and admits that even rebellious rockers have “a soft side.”

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If anything, expect the unexpected from Andrea Echeverri, the pierced, tattooed, talking head of Colombian alterna-punk group Aterciopelados, one of Latin rock’s best known bands.
   In the mid-1990s, through her sexually- and socially-charged songs and performances, Echeverri would trash her lovers, mock pretty girls for failing to see beyond the skin-deep, reject the idea of deforming her body by giving birth to a child, and pronounce a genuinely bleak future for humankind. She delivered her jeremiads in an unforgettable voice, at once assured, fragile and powerful.
   Now the iconoclastic singer and songwriter finds herself a new mother, admitting that even rebellious rockers have “a soft side,” and that she’s begun singing with “a heart that bleeds love.”
   Indeed, on Andrea Echeverri (Nacional Records), her first solo album—or as she likes to put it, a side project of Aterciopelados—the 38-year-old Bogotá native reflects on motherhood, life and sex, singing about how she’s become a better lover and a creature of the universe.  It is all part, she says, of Aterciopelados’ stance against a postmodern aesthetic of Latin American culture.
   “It’s true that I’ve matured in many ways and with age you start looking at things that are essential in life,” Echeverri says from Los Angeles, the first stop on her promotional tour. “But I’m not looking to motherhood to offer the usual clichés associated with pop music these songs come from my heart, my guts and my sex.” 
   The 12-track album is a valentine to both her life partner, artist Jose Manuel Jaramillo, and her now two-year-old daughter Milagros. Like most of her songs, it is also a daring move. In a genre in which introspection and autobiography are hardly subjects favored by songwriters, Echeverri is not afraid to be downright romantic.
   The truth is that at times she’s brilliant, like in “Baby Blues” and the stunningly beautiful “A Eme O.” Yet she can also be a tad cheesy, if not down right silly, as in “Quedate” and “Ya yo no.” 
   Musically, however, the results are always engaging. This is Aterciopelados (the album was produced by bassist Hector Buitrago, the other half of the group) with a soft edge, stylistically challenging (where else can you hear hip-hop champeta?) and lyrically smart (check out the science-laced poetry of in “Amniotico”).
   “When I got pregnant with Milagritos, I felt I also got pregnant with all these songs that started growing inside of me while Milagros was growing in my belly,” says Echeverri, who has been called P.J. Harvey, Tori Amos and Karen O all-in-one.
   “At first I thought it was a personal album, but when Hector [Buitrago] and I sat down to record, I said, ‘Wait a minute, this is a very sexy album too.’ And it is. I felt my daughter had opened new doors for me. I felt more woman more mature, sexy and erotic.” 
   While throughout the record Echeverri sings about birth, breast-feeding and foreplay, she also can’t ignore events outside her domestic sphere, and many of the songs are also metaphors for the peace yearned for by Colombians in a country brutalized by years of relentless violence. If at times her lyrics seem a tad oblique and her delivery a bit new-agey, rest assured that she’s working on many levels here.   
   “What I love about Andrea is that she can be highly charismatic onstage, yet she’s a singer in the tradition of old-style vocalists,” says Richard Blair, mastermind of the electronic project Sidesteppers and frequent collaborator of Aterciopelados (he remixed “A Eme O” on E