The first time you listen to Yanin Saavedra’s debut album Búsqueda, you realize that this is something different – that your ears are in the presence of a unique and exquisite talent. But – like its title – Búsqueda leaves you searching, probing deeper for the heart of the album and of Yanin herself. So, you listen again, and again.
It is not that Busqueda is addictive, which it is, but that Yanin herself is addictive. She seems to be both a mystery driving your own search and an open book awaiting your perusal. I have never encountered an artist quite like her. In Busqueda she talks to you – literally – but then skips away, beckoning you on a journey like a child running through a dark forest with bright balloons. Her voice curls like soft smoke from a candle and then reforms with the sharpness of a straight razor. She brings these two sonic powers together in 12 songs in an album that is simultaneously a giggling adventure and an incisive introspection with every note precisely shaped by her otherworldly, outlier voice.
Yanin Saavedra has been releasing versions of some of the songs for several months now while she tinkered with the final album, making her fans wait but satisfying them in the interim with live performances and a house concert preview. The wait was worth it; the album is a story on its own, a coherent whole that hangs together like a fast-moving adventure story. Each of the dozen songs is a gem on its own and a connected step in Yanin’s search, moving you forward like clues sprinkled along a wooded path. Each is different, each has a personality that can grab your hand or your throat or both simultaneously.
The title song” Búsqueda” opens the album and sets the tone as Yanin spins out her story in an edgy French-influenced high range that softens seductively when she rolls her Mexican “r’s. It isn’t until the breakdown that you are aware of Alvaro Mendeles’ crystal bell-clear guitar notes moving the song thorough a landscape of strings and her overdubbed voice.
You come down to earth quickly with “Cuestiona la illusión” as the tempo picks up with a faster guitar strum and Angel Madrigal’s gentle snare beats. But as the music moves lightly it reveals the depth of the question she is asking– is this life an illusion? We are searching with her, continuing into “Mariposa” which adds Vincent Hour’s accordion to color the path as Yanin goes from conversational to lyrically seductive.
“Anhelo” – “Yearning” in English – upends the mood, just to make sure you remember we are on a journey so don’t get too relaxed. Opening with pounding drums that back off but still move like a running pulse underneath a Spanish-inflected guitar, the song is like a walk on the beach in Ensenada at midnight. Quick, earthy, joyful, but full of meaning and desire. As your foot stops tapping, Yanin sweeps you into a deeper world with “Haramara”, her voice ringing out as from a cavern with a touch of echo and a guitar movement that tears at your heart. My favorite song on the album.
“Aliento” continues the mystery of” Haramara” but rather than into the arteries of the earth it takes you to the space between the stars that can only be reached by going into your OM mind. An instrumental with a drone backdrop, the search has now gone inside your consciousness and pushed transient thoughts aside. “Sal” pulls you out of the void and kicks up your heels. Dance-paced with the feel of a Spanish-Moroccan nightclub in the 20’s, “Sal” levitates you around the floor like a marionette led by Yanin’s whisper in your ear. Is it gypsy? It is French jazz with a clarinet? Is it banda-rock? Who cares? It is a delightful station on your search. And it gets even more continental as Yanin moves on to “Dans tous les trains”. Truly now you are in Paris at midnight with an accordion-driven cabaret.
But the search returns to Yanin’s unique interior world of Mexican light/heaviness in “Sin Reflexión, before it moves to one of the best songs on the album, “Impermanente”, skipping lightly with brush-energized snares, Estaban’s clarinet, and of course that voice. The mood carries on in “Transformation” but with a more familiar beat and Yanin’s conversational voice, close to the microphone, closer to your ear.
She finishes the album with “Resonancia” a complex interplay of her down-to-earth vocals, accordion, and light touch but complex percussion. After a somewhat pretentious intro Yanin throws open the door to a last dance, but not a last stop of the search. The song stops and takes a sharp turn with bongos and Yanin’s voice resonating with a slight echo and high production overdubbed vocals and precise finger-picking guitar. Like everything else on the album, it is unique, intriguing and addictive.
I for one am very happy Yanin took the time to get all of the details right with the album. She understands, either intuitively or consciously, that her voice is an outlier from those you hear on the radio or streaming services every day. She has taken this understanding to produce a debut album that capitalizes on her outlier voice and shimmers with wonder. Busqueda stands on its own as a work of musical artistry but promises much more to come.
Búsqueda by Yanin Saavedra
Gilberto Rios, bass, double bass
Angel Madrigal, percussion
Luis Mariano Almaguer, guitar
Vincent Houdré, accordion
Juan Pablo Medeles, guitar
Mixed by Alejandro Meludis and mastered by José Ferrer