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Album review: Maria the Mexican - Moon Colored Jade

Album review: Maria the Mexican - Moon Colored Jade

There are certain ways music reviewers and lovers describe bands to other people. They will often say, “It’s like XXX and XXX had a baby,” or “It’s rock/soul, etc.” This review will not include a sentence like that; I found myself dumbstruck trying to find points of connection for a stranger to understand the way Maria the Mexican sounds. It would take too many references to make sense. There are folk-pop songs, interpretations of traditional Mexican songs, and blues-driven numbers.
The debut record from Maria the Mexican, Moon Colored Jade, is full of super tight harmony from sisters Maria and Tess Cuevas. The Cuevas sisters bring experience from performing in Mariachi Estrella while they were growing up, an all-female mariachi band co-formed by their grandmother Teresa Cuevas. The album also abounds in beautiful bass lines supplied by Garrett Nordstrom, abundant and persistent horns, and forceful and delicate guitar by Jason Riley.
The album initially draws you in with its first track “Rock and Sway,” a folk-pop song with blues underpinnings courtesy of Nordstrom’s bassline. Lest you believe this is a folk-pop record, “Bring It On Body” weaves the sisters’ harmony through a strong R&B and funk vibe. Carrying on this note and bringing Patrice Pike in for good measure, I highly recommend listening to “Sigh.” Pike brings a low end to the harmony of the Cuevas sisters, and that depth lends a force and earnestness to the song.
The last type of song you find on this record is a reinterpreted traditional Mexican bolero as well as an original composition in Spanish influenced by the bolero. “Besame Mucho” is the probably the most recorded bolero of all time. Everyone from The Beatles to Connie Francis to Andrea Bocelli and Diana Krall have recorded the tune, but Maria the Mexican makes the version its own, with upbeat pop and mariachi influences. With Moon Colored Jade, Maria the Mexican has delivered something unique that keeps you listening.
--Angela Lupton
Angela is a co-founder and the executive director of Midwest Music Foundation.
Congrats also to Maria the Mexican on being The Deli KC’s February Artist of the Month!
You can catch Maria the Mexican at the final fundraiser for MidCoast Takeover, this Saturday at The Brick. The band will be performing at 12:30, after Chris Meck & the Guilty Birds, Katy Guillen & the Girls, and The Philistines. Show starts at 10 p.m., $10. Facebook event page.


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