“Is this an ad for a summer beverage,” I ask myself before the 25-second mark of the first track, “Maria La Baja”. It’s hard not to crack open a cold one once you get a sense of Roberto López’s seductive blend of South American and Caribbean stylings on this 2017 release.It feels corny at first, but the vocal introduction at 1:20 hints at enough sonic diversity to keep attention.
Roberto López is a Colombian Montrealer who borrows as much from his Latin roots as jazz pop with Caribbean touches on Criollo Electrik. As the album title suggests, López curates a cultural Créole; Colombian sounds present with Caribbean themes that are fun although not often structurally adventurous.
Guitar, bass, keys, tambora and llamador were recorded by López, with Momo Soro on drums and Vovô Saramanda with additional percussions. Although multiple vocalists are credited, the album is largely instrumental, despite the effective and resonant vocals on several tracks, including “Las Aguas”.
López is at his best when we want to dance, and no song on the album invites to the dance floor more than “Las Aguas”, the fifth and strongest track of the album.
Uses for Criollo Electrik include but are not limited to: waterside bar playlist; soundtrack to a Spanish film you half-watch while scrolling your feed; pretend-it’s-not-winter delusion fodder for the cold months. Sam Swanson