On his exquisite debut album, Marchita, Mexican singer-songwriter Silvana Estrada dissects the many bruised facets of a breakup in 11 intimate and elegant tunes. Estrada colors his compositions with his experiences growing up in a family of classical musicians and luthiers as well as his jazz studies at the University of Veracruz. At Marchita, she draws a line between these influences and iconic Latin American composers of the mid-20th century, including Chilean folk star Violeta Parra and Mexican singer-songwriter María Grever (whose 1934 song “Cuando Vuelva a Tu Lado” was rewritten with English lyrics and later popularized by Dinah Washington as “What a Diff’rence a Day Makes” in 1959). Estrada has an impressive range as a singer, and during Marchita she accompanies herself mainly on Venezuelan cuatro (a four-stringed instrument similar to a ukulele, but with a deeper sound), she also surrounds her crystalline and controlled voice with the warm sounds of cello, double bass, jarana and occasionally saxophone. Estrada bares her emotions and angst in poetic lyrics unfolding in delicate and fierce phrases reminiscent of one of her favorite singers, Billie Holiday. Her delivery accentuates the raw romanticism of claiming the power a helpless lover still has after a breakup: admitting defeat without accepting defeat and cherishing the scars as proof of healing. On “Tristeza”, she sings: “Sadness, I ask: how long do I have to wait until you understand that instead of crying, I sing? While Marchita may be Estrada’s debut album, her maturity and poise speaks volumes about her talent, and I can’t wait to hear what music she’ll come up with next. Her next show at Schubas is subject to the state of the pandemic, like so many others, but if all goes well she will perform there on Wednesday, March 2.
by Silvana Estrada Marchita is out on 01/21 and will be available via his website.