Nil Lara is a Cuban-American songwriter with Venezuelan roots who has just blown me away. I read about him recently on Matt Nathanson’s celebrity playlist (of all places), sought him out, and immediately loved what I heard. Lara is soulful and passionate and sings like his heart is burning. Add in heavy doses of warm & layered Latin percussion, traditional Cuban and Venezuelan string instruments, and his soaring chants and vocals (in a combination of Spanish and English) – and I was hooked.
It’s been named by some “Number 2 on my list of Best Albums By People That 99.5% of the World Has Never Heard Of.”
His 1996 self-titled album was critically acclaimed, but never received the popular attention it deserves. As such it is kind of hard to find: It is on iTunes (but not eMusic), and you can find used copies on Amazon. I would completely go see him live, and surely dance myself sore, but he seems to be on indefinite hiatus. Download these, and buy the album, though – sheer fabulousness.
I Will Be Free – Nil Lara
(I love the Spanish ululating — which almost sounds African at times — and furious guitar strumming on this one)
Mama’s Chant – Nil Lara
(standout traditional drum & chant piece, builds slowly and you feel it from your toes on up)