Austin, TX-based singer/songwriter Gina Chavez’s sophomore effort up.rooted is slated for a February 11th release. Produced by Michael Ramos. who has worked with the likes of Patty Griffin and John Mellencamp, up.rooted as Chavez has said in interviews is “a rhythmic exploration of who I am” – “a sonic garden of stories from an ethnically mixed woman on a journey to uncover her lost Latin roots."
in other words although her parents were of Mexican and of Swiss-German descent, like countless other Americans, she grew up listening to Lyle Lovett, Little Richard, Michael Jackson and others. However, her musical journey back to some of her roots was heavily inspired by Austin’s Continental Club, which lead to a semester abroad in Buenos Aries, Argentina and to community work in one of El Salvador’s toughest neighborhoods. And the album is a sort of whirlwind tour of Latin American sounds and rhythms including cumbia, bossa nova, pop, reggaeton and folk, featuring guest spots from Adrian Quesada, the Tosca String Quartet, the incredible Grupo Fantasma horns, David Pulkingham and others from the Austin, TX music scene.
When I heard the album’s latest single "Gotta Get,” I was immediately reminded of the sounds of the streets of Roosevelt Avenue between parts of Jackson Heights to Corona; of radios and boom boxes in Flushing Meadow Park as extended families hang out, playing soccer or running around; of Spanish Harlem and the South Bronx; of sweaty parties stretching deep into a summer night. As a native New Yorker, it brings to mind summertime – in other words, if you hear merengue and salsa from someone’s car or from someone’s apartment, it had to be summer. Whether Chavez sings in Spanish or in English, her voice is absolutely gorgeous; however, I must admit that when she sings in English it brings the song closer to Latin-tinged/Latin-influenced pop music. Now, that isn’t a bad thing as it may bring Chavez and her Austin cohorts to a much larger audience. To be fair, with a voice like that, how is she not a big time pop star already?
Plus the incredible Grupo Fantasma horn section are among this country’s great horn sections that everyone should know and doesn’t. Seriously, they rank pretty highly with the G.E.D Soul horns and the Daptone Records crew.
At the end of the day, the track is just a great pop song.