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Gina Chavez

up.rooted

Reviewed by Nina Hernandez, Fri., Feb. 14, 2014

Texas Platters

Pride bursts from every track of up.rooted. Fiery Latina Gina Chavez celebrates her musical roots in this natural progression from 2007 debut Hanging Spoons, which revealed a singer-songwriter just beginning to discover aspects of her heritage. Two years later, the native Austinite traveled to El Salvador to teach English and returned with a burning love for reggaeton and world music, resulting in a decisive sound and emphatic vocals. Working with $20,000 in Kickstarter funds, Chavez melds perfectly pop opener "Save Me" with reggae ("Siete-D") and hypnotic, bilingual cumbias ("Miles de Millas," "Gotta Get"). Enlisting veteran local studio genius Michael Ramos (Patty Griffin; his Charanga Cakewalk) results in a flawlessly bilingual balance between South American, Mexican, and American influences. Each track bristles with authenticity: Folk idols Eliza Gilkyson and Nathan Hamilton lend harmonies on sweeping Latin ballad "Todo Cambia," the Grupo Fantasma horns electrify "Gotta Get," and Ramos' electrifying accordion vies for LP MVP. "Soy Quien Soy" declares her love of South America, and it defines up.rooted: Chavez asked hard questions, put in the miles, and emerged brimming with dynamic self-assurance. (CD release: Saturday, Feb. 15, Stateside at the Paramount.)

****

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