A little while ago while in my hometown of Monterrey, Mexico, I headed to a music store with one goal in mind: to buy the new Natalia Lafourcade album.
“Don’t buy it,” a store employee told me, “it’s really weird.” But his reaction intrigued me even more. I bought it and immediately loaded it onto my iPod so I could listen to it that night.
“Good thing you didn’t pay attention to him,” Lafourcade, 23, tells me in a phone interview.
The reaction of that employee, and of so many Lafourcade followers accustomed to her accessible style, is logical: Her latest project is an instrumental album complete with an orchestra and four themes, called Las 4 estaciones del amor (The 4 Seasons of Love).
Similar to Vivaldi’s seasons, the tiny singer (in stature only) composed a piece for each season of the year as a means to describe the fickle stages of love.
“Love is something very bipolar, it’s not a linear thing. The way things are at the beginning, they’re never the same again. They’re always changing. Love has incredibly dark moments, lucid, transparent, sick, moments that make you feel high, and others that feel like death. And that’s what this instrumental [album] attempts to express through melodies, harmonies. Music is full of bipolarity, and it creates tension [and more] tension until the moment arrives in winter when everything just explodes.”
Still, Lafourcade’s third career album shouldn’t be that much of a surprise for her followers. From her pop and bossa nova-style debut album she took a leap into complex, alternative music for her second album, called Casa. Now she’s discovering herself as a classical composer.
“I feel like this disc was created with intuition, it’s something that’s inside of me, and I wanted to get it out. And it had a lot to do with my musical influences at that time. That’s what I’ve done throughout my career: each disc has something to do with a moment in the present.”
Las 4 estaciones del amor is a surprising, refreshing and overall great album that almost didn’t get to be heard. Lafourcade was aware that the disc wasn’t a record for record labels, and that perhaps the best option would be to do something independent and just hand out copies to friends.
“It’s a personal project that I wanted to do with my own resources, but when I recorded the demo and the record label people listened to it, they told me, ‘please, let us support you, do it, get it out and move forward,’ which was incredible for me.”
For those of you who miss Lafourcade’s powerful voice and her presence (she’s so modest that not a single picture of her can be found in the album), relax: an album with vocals will go on sale this year.
“As I was doing Las 4 estaciones…, I was also working on my songs album, but I felt like I had to give the instrumentals their place. If I would have released the other one first, this one would have its own individual strength, and maybe the employee actually would have convinced you not to buy it,” she jokes.
The Mexican artist, who belongs to the same musical family as Julieta Venegas, Ely Guerra, Juana Molina and Gustavo Cerati, and who lately has been listening to groups like Portishead, Little Dragon and Radiohead, has a recommendation to maximize your enjoyment of Las 4 estaciones del amor: “Listen to it while you walk, drive or when you’re on the bus. Use it as the soundtrack for your own love story.”
The singer, a Pisces, says she doesn’t have her own love story for the time being, but the album reflects the sad results of a relationship now ended. Creating Las 4 estaciones… was how she exorcized that demon. If only we were all composers…