Lila Downs

Pecados y Milagros (Sony)

SXSW 2012 Records

Lila Downs

Pecados y Milagros (Sony)

Björk's 2011 iPad album Biophilia could have used some of Lila Downs' mixed-media soul. Commissioning 15 retablos, Mexican home-altar-type paintings, to interpret the album's 14 tracks, Pecados y Milagros – Sins and Miracles – the veteran Oaxaca, Mexico, singer and song stylist bares an inebriating Latin romance cribbed from a cantina mural. Shots are banging off sheet metal tables from the first track, "Mezcalito," huffing with a percussive whoop of brass and bajo (bass). Followed by a trip to "Tu Cárcel" (Your Prison), a sighing torch ballad with tears plucked by both strings and a wringing vocal, Downs' buoyant Sony debut ferments between love and death, the latter in the person of "La Reyna del Inframundo" (Queen of the Underworld), a donkey hop of accordion and mariachi detailing. Third track "Zapata Se Queda" (Zapata Stays), a 70-proof Caribbean swivel with cumbia master Celso Piña and Colombian singer Totó la Momposina, keeps the hits coming. Delicious dove calls ("Cucurrucucú") and the Marley-esque guitar solo on a Downs original, "Palomo del Comalito," mirror the disc's nearly 50/50 split between the singer and her husband Paul Cohen's jukebox originals and more traditional fare. Better still, Downs and Cohen hold their own on the dog-race tempo "Pecadora" (Sinner) aided by Argentine funk duo Illya Kuryaki & the Valderramas. Modern and disturbing, the "Pecadora" retablo doubles the beat. Pecados y Milagros: On second thought, better call in Julie Taymor.

(Wed., 10pm, Speakeasy; Thu., 9:30pm, St. David's Bethell Hall)


Keep up with all our SXSW coverage at Sign up for our South-by-specific newsletter at for news, reviews, and previews delivered to your inbox every day of the Fest. And for the latest Tweets, follow @ChronSXSW.

More Lila Downs
Live Shots
Lila Downs
SXSW Showcase Reviews

Melanie Haupt, March 16, 2012

Phases and Stages
Lila Downs
Shake Away (Record Review)

Belinda Acosta, Oct. 10, 2008

More Music Reviews
Texas Platters
Leti Garza
El Unico Para Mi (Record Review)

Alejandra Ramirez, Nov. 24, 2017

Texas Platters
Sunny & the Sunliners
Mr. Brown Eyed Soul (Record Review)

Thomas Fawcett, Nov. 24, 2017

More by Raoul Hernandez
Texas Platters
Lödarödböl (Record Review)

Nov. 24, 2017

Sound on Sound Review: Cannibal Corpse
SOS Review: Cannibal Corpse
Into the pit

Nov. 11, 2017


Lila Downs

AC Daily, Events and Promotions, Luvdoc Answers

Breaking news, recommended events, and more

Official Chronicle events, promotions, and giveaways

Updates for SXSW 2017

All questions answered (satisfaction not guaranteed)