If you’ve been frequenting this site over the past few months, you may recall that I’ve previously written about Melbourne, Australia-based Latin music nonet San Lazaro. Featuring band members, who claim heritage from all over the Spanish speaking world — including Chile, Cuba, Catalonia and elsewhere. And as result, the Australian act have developed a reputation for a sound that draws across the Latin Diaspora as it possesses elements of reggaeton, salsa, Cuban son, 70s New York salsa and 60s Peruvian cumbia in an effortlessly seamless fashion; in fact, the band has simultaneously developed a reputation for being Melbourne’s preeminent Latin acts, as the band’s 2012 release Clave contra Clave helped the band win Best Australian Latin Band, and their single “Muchacho Tranquilo” was included on the 2014 Rough Guide to Psychedelic Salsa compilation.
La Despedida (which translates from Spanish to English as “The Farewell”) the Melbourne-based nonet’s latest effort, appropriately focuses on some familiar themes to all of us — breakups, loss, insomnia, political protests and more. And adding to the emotional weight is the fact that the material is also deeply informed by the fact that the band has broken up and reconvened several times. Now, you may remember that “Amor De Despedida” was a propulsive song that balanced swooning heartache with a bitter, kiss off to someone who made the song’s narrator feel ambivalent and confused emotions, “La Ola” the album’s latest single is a swinging and bouncing bit of cumbia that has the band pairing twangy country music-like guitars with a propulsive and insistent rhythm and an enormous horn line to craft a song that’s inspired by the Chica cumbia sound of 1970s Peru — while the song’s narrator tells a woeful tale about a fickle love that seems to to come and go as she pleases, and as you listen to the song, the song’s narrator expresses a frustrated, bemused and ambivalent bitterness over it while admitting that they seem hopelessly pulled into a situation they can’t quite control.