If I told you one of the most intricately beautiful albums I’ve heard this year was recorded by a television personality, would you believe me? Unless you spent time in Argentina, you probably wouldn’t know the name Juana Molina, but she was one of that country’s most famous TV comedians until she turned her back on the limelight and returned to her first love of making music. While that may sound like the formula for an unintentionally funny vanity project, Tres Cosas, Molina’s third album, shows a serious musical talent worthy of international attention.
More than anything else, Tres Cosas sets a mood. On a base of quietly quirky songwriting, Molina’s airy voice floats out of the speakers, cushioned by acoustic guitar and subtle use of electronics. The sparse arrangements tastefully serve the music and help give Tres Cosas a haunting, otherworldly feel. While the elements are simple, combining them produces deeply sophisticated music with the overall effect sounding like a more restrained and folky Stereolab.
For this non-Latino, the fact that Juana Molina sings entirely in Spanish only adds to the exotic quality of the album. Unfortunately, in America singing in anything other than English usually results in banishment to the “world music” bin. As much as I’d enjoy knowing what she’s singing, the language barrier does nothing to diminish the delicate joy I felt listening to this album. You don’t need to speak the language to appreciate the splendor of Juana Molina and Tres Cosas.