Her last album was one of the finest releases of the year, so how could she follow that?
The heavy and often witty Mex flavour of the her previous LP has been toned down and much of Shake Away is sung in English this time. The subject matter is still classic Lila Downs though: immigration, love, defiance. ‘Minimum Wage’ captures the cat and mouse game of Mexican immigration perfectly and her political lyrics are perfectly set off by the upbeat and bluesy insistence of the music.
A generous serving of guest musicians from the uber hip Raul Midon to the legendary Mercedes Sosa make an appearance on an album EMI obviously hope could break out of the ‘world music’ market and actually sell a bit. To this end, there are also surprisingly effective romantic songs like ‘Yo envidio el viento’ and ‘I Would Never’, gentle powerful ballads filled with yearning that will have you reaching for your lighter or the exits depending on your proclivities.
With its range covering everything from frantic to gentle, its mix of languages, the practical politics of the everyday, the mysteries of mysticism and the compelling tunes, this is an album with only one flaw: occasionally she overdoes it a bit and she’d do well to hold back that little extra bit of humour and showiness for her compelling live performances. Not that that should stop you enjoying the extraordinary world of Lila Downs again.