Andrea EcheverriView in iTunes
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Colombia's Andrea Echeverri is best known as the outspoken leader of the Grammy-winning Latin alt-rock/trip-hop outfit Aterciopelados; she's also a Latina who sideswipes stereotypes by leaning more toward Cat Power than Christina Aguilera musically. For all her feminist fire and subversiveness, though -- upon the formation of Aterciopelados in 1990, the pierced and tattooed Echeverri stunned her conservative country by singing a song about her unwillingness to ruin her silhouette by having children -- her voice is renowned for its enveloping purr and warmth. The name Aterciopelados, aptly, translates as "the velvety ones" and is taken from a poem by Simone de Beauvoir -- a hint at both the high-mindedness and social consciousness of Echeverri and her collaborator in Aterciopelados, Héctor Buitrago. Musically, Aterciopelados' albums run a range from folky to funky; hippie-ish North African grooves fuse pleasingly with electronica, and traditional Latin sounds bump up against American pop/rock. The eclectic sound earned Echeverri and Buitrago a wider following in the U.S. upon the release of the widely acclaimed Gozo Poderoso in 2001. Though Aterciopelados was still an active, touring band in 2005 with plans to continue recording, Echeverri again asserted her independent spirit that year by releasing a solo project. Buzz about Andrea Echeverri spread quickly, with the consensus being that it is likely the sexiest album about motherhood ever recorded. The set, broken into two parts thematically, one called "From the Cradle" and the other "From the Bed," explores Echeverri's relationship with her two-year-old daughter first, then delves into the joy of parenting with a committed partner. A song about breast-feeding incorporating the jingle-jangle sounds of nursery toys in the first section flows freely into a serene ode to familial, long-term love in the second. That the songs are sung in Spanish seems to have mattered little to Echeverri's English-speaking listeners. Praise for its lushness and freshness poured in universally, ringed in hopes that further solo outings will follow. ~ Tammy La Gorce