It is a rare occasion when you listen to an album of a debut solo artist and proclaim it to be superb. It is even more rare in this day and age to claim that an album that revisits romanticism be impeccable. So it is that there exists a contemporary romantic album that is unique yet timeless. Former front man of Elefant, Diego Garcia, has taken the tragedy of a lost love and imaginatively placed his anguish into his debut solo album, Laura, which takes the listener on a journey of reconciling a broken heart. This album is by far one of the most interesting things I have listened to this year and I have fallen in love. Let me count the ways I love Laura.
One is for the complex layering of sounds that is gradual, natural and dreamy. A worldly repertoire of musical styles such as the yé-yé sixties, sultry Argentinean tango, and seductive Spanish guitar unfold to reveal the complexities of instrumentation that parallel with Garcia’s lyrics. It’s like walking in a dreamland throughout the album but “Under this Spell” especially epitomizes the music’s surreal nature with seamless but unexpected transitions.
Secondly, even though the songs are thematically melancholic they still feel ethereal. Garcia writes lyrics from the heart but uses a fine tuned ear and eye for pristine and beautiful sentences. The lyrics are aesthetic without force because they depict experiences that are universal. “Roses and Wine” takes a poetic approach in portraying the moment when one recognizes that love is leaving. It’s tragic and true.
If the love list would have already stopped, the album would still be amazing, but it get’s better. Garcia gives emotion to voice. American musicians seldom use vocality but he uses his voice to not just sing his words but rather to express them. In the song “Stay,” Garcia sings of hope and despair with both lengthened vibrato and exasperated utterances. Subtle but with great impact like in Argentinean tango, he utters his pain, shouts for joy and lingers on the memories.
Lost love leads to pain but through such pain immense beauty can prevail as is demonstrated throughout Laura. Simple yet surreal, tragic but enchanting, Garcia offers a refreshing break from the often-monotonous music scene of today. This album will surely remain on playlists for a quite a while… at least until Garcia decides to release his second album.
Watch Garcia’s music video for his single “You Were Never There” below: