You can always tell when an artist or band is going to rocket to the to the top. They collect an award or two before their first release, draw big crowds when they play locally, and have an overflow audience for the album release party. Sin Color – the duo of Crisia Regalado and David Aquino – has done all of that and something else – their debut album, Frutas, is more than debut – it is ready now for prime time. Not bad for two kids who just turned 20.
Frutas is a tour de force of musical craftsmanship and sheer talent. Each of its ten songs is a gem – there is no filler here. Crisia’s opera-trained voice soars and swoops and soothes, supported by David’s superb guitar chops and the backing of Latin Grammy-nominated accordion mistress Gloria Estrada, the great border blues duo The Dank Band, and the percussion genius of Buyepongo, all guided by top producer Eugene Toale. For artists so young to assemble such a highly regarded group of artists and snap up one of LA’s most in-demand producers to create what is essentially a perfect album first time out is remarkable.
But Sin Color has always been remarkable. From marrying opera (which Crisia still performs) with Latino folk, and rock and pop to winning the LA Music Critics Best Music Video of 2016 for “Pergunto”, shot on an iPhone while Crisia and David were on roller skates. Frutas is a continuation of their remarkable creativity.
Frutas is in Spanish except for one song – “Unknown Kiss” – but the language doesn’t matter for listening. From the smooth jazz rock of “Un Pensamiento” to the electropop of “Limonada” to the mystery march of the title track, “Frutas”, Crisia weaves gut-grabbing arias among the beats and the riffs in a fusion of classical and popular that is hypnotic. It is cool and hot, impressive and comforting, edgy and charming – and far beyond what anyone has a right to expect from a first time out offering from a pair of 20-year olds.
Many opera trained singers have migrated to pop (Crisia still sings opera) but I have never heard anyone blend the two so explicitly, keeping the true essence of each but creating a whole far greater than the parts. Frutas was two years in the making and during that time Crisia’s voice matured and gained very precise control, allowing her to move to the very highest aria notes in “Un Pasemiento” and integrate them into the jazzy beat as if they were born there. She downshifts to a full-bodied pop range in “Arriba La Libertad”, skating over the synth beats and then reaches for – and touches – the sky in the steady Latin rhythms of La Ciguanaba”. “Me Pergunto”, which has been a Sin Color staple, uses her voice in a unique pop signature intro. In “Como El Viento” she touches the sky and then goes into high orbit, all the time riding the ranchera polka energy.
Shifting to English and a 4/4 beat in “Unknown Kiss”, Crisia evokes 90’s rock sensibilities deepened by David’s guitar and keyboard riffs which keep you dancing. The band takes us back toward old Mexico ( Crisia’s parents are actually from El Salvador) in “Antes De Amarte” – and again with synth rifts and pop beats interjected among the bolero influences. The album winds down with “No Quise”, which stays in the traditional Mexica folk world but with the edge that Crisia’s haunting voice can add – taking the pueblo la plaza into the stars.
Frutas is cool and hot, impressive and comforting, edgy and charming – and far beyond what anyone has a right to expect from a first time out offering from a pair of 20-year olds. I hope we don’t have to wait two years for the next album, but in the meantime, there are at least four hit singles on this one and I will be hearing them a lot as they rocket to the top.