Gaby Moreno “Dusk”

Cosmica, 2024

Gorgeous new record from multi-talented LA based artist.

Cover art for Gaby Moreno 'Dusk'The last twelve months has seen Gaby Moreno win a Grammy for her 2023 EP ‘X Mi Vol 1’ and a Latin Grammy as producer of ‘Vida’ by Omara Portuondo.  Her song ‘Por Qué Te Vas?’ was a highlight of the soundtrack for last year’s ‘Puss In Boots- The Last Wish’ movie.  AUK readers in the UK may have seen her supporting Nickel Creek in the Autumn of 2023 while any attending San Francisco’s Hardly Strictly Bluegrass a few weeks later will have seen her move a Sunday lunchtime audience at the main Banjo Stage from ‘who’s this?’ to a roaring standing ovation inside 40 minutes.

‘Dusk’ is Moreno’s ninth studio album and follows on the heels of ‘Alegoria’ (2022) which also attracted a Grammy nomination.  The album sees her sharing production duties, for the first time in a decade, with Nashville-based Dan Knobler  (Allison Russell, Rodney Crowell, Della Mae etc).  Moreno has selected a broad range of songs for ’Dusk’ covering the full spectrum of ‘big-tent’ americana and it’s no exaggeration to say she manages to be very much in command of the variety of styles.

The first track, ‘Let It Fade’, starts mysteriously; the music, featuring echoey percussion, warm keys, a gentle bass and shimmering guitar, entwines itself around Moreno’s breathy vocal as it acknowledges sometimes the bad times are better left to fade even if it loses some good times with them.  The mood contrasts with the Western twangy ‘New Dawn’ in which she welcomes hope and opportunity on the other side.

The rocking ‘Solid Ground’ comes as something of a surprise in that it’s a departure from Moreno’s usual style.  However, she carries it off with aplomb. ‘El Saber’ is a song written for the soundtrack of Eugenio Derbez fact-based film ‘Radical’, released late last year.  The track is described as ‘Dusk Version’ and with a vocal oozing feeling and a chorus where Moreno’s interaction with the backing singers is enough to get neck hairs standing.

Raised in Guatemala, Moreno has called Los Angeles home for many years and ‘A Song In My Heart’ is something of a love letter to the city, sung in both English and Spanish.    The following track, ‘Ain’t That The Way It Goes’, is another, funkier, rocker telling the tale of her journey (in the broadest sense) from Central America to California.

Moreno worked with Van Dyke Parks on ‘¡Spangled!’ (2019) and the two are reunited for a warm, affectionate version of Bob Dylan’s ‘I’ll Be Your Baby Tonight’.  Their version retains the easy roll of the original but adds more of a nightclub feel with Moreno’s vocal pretty sultry. ‘Rainy Season’ turns the mood around once more as Moreno’s vulnerable vocal sits softly over an accompaniment in which synthetic strings and pedal steel are prominent.

Moreno revisits ‘Xi M’ adding a ‘Dusk Version’ of ‘Luna de Xelaju’ which adds lush instrumentation to the starker version of the duet with Oscar Isaac.  In either version it’s a beautiful song and well worth seeking out both.  The album’s finale ‘Dance The Night Away’ hits every expectation anyone familiar with Moreno’s canon would have and some.  It’s a beautiful song with a glorious vocal and a backing track conjuring mental pictures of 1950’s classic ballrooms.

In ‘Dusk’ Moreno has produced an excellent record optimising her own input with the skills of her collaborators (writers and players).  It’s well scoped to achieve a wide appeal and provide a snapshot of the breadth of her repertoire.

 

9/10
9/10

About Richard Parkinson 129 Articles
London based self-diagnosed music junkie with tastes extending to all points of big tent americana and beyond. Fan of acts and songs rather than genres.
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Martin Johnson

Americana UK has recently chatted with Gaby. Watch this space.