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Perla Batalla


Country of origin:

U.S.

Type of music generally:

Pop with a Latin flavour and traditional Mexican influences

Status:

Most recent release, Love Bigger (c. 2015)

See also:

Perla Batalla's web site

Comparisons:

Paula Cole

Covers/own material:

Co-writes material

General comments:

I saw Perla Batalla live a long long time ago, doing backing vocals for Leonard Cohen, way back when he was on tour in Europe in 1988 (the I'm Your Man tour). At the time I was not only impressed by her powerful voice but also by her stage presence and looks.... :-) (there is a picture of her on that tour in the Leonard Cohen files).
     She has a strong, clear voice, not unlike Paula Cole's—at times she also has the same diction and phrasing as Paula, making them sound very much alike. But mostly I would say Perla's voice is a warmer and more emotional, less affected. Her music ranges from beautiful intense songs with traditional Mexican influences to Gloria Estefan-ballads-like smooth pop songs. She sings both in English and in Spanish. (Marion)

Recommended first album:

Mestiza

Recordings:


Perla Batalla

Release info:

1994—Warner/Discovery—1046-77011-2

Availability:

See Perla Batalla's web site for availability

Produced by:

Perla Batalla and Leanne Ungar

Comments:

"Seems so long ago Nancy" written and composed by Leonard Cohen.

Mestiza

Release info:

1999—Mechuda Music—02987 00662

Availability:

See Perla Batalla's web site for availability

Ecto priority:

Recommended

Group members:

Perla Batalla—vocals

Guest artists:

David Batteau—vocals, guitar
Claud Mann—vocals, percussion
Mike Elizondo, Jr.—bass
Michael Faue—percussion, keyboards
Steven Gregory—guitar
Edward Valfre—flugelhorn

Produced by:

Perla Batalla and David Batteau

Comments:

I quite like this album. A bit too smooth/lush/pop-y in places, but Perla does have a warm, clear and strong voice and some songs are very beautiful. Though I can't help thinking of Paula Cole at times (especially the way she sings "When the Man and the Woman say 'Come' / When the Spirit and the Bride say 'Come' / When the rhythm of the nights say 'Come to me' / Yeah" in the song "Morning Star", which would not be out of place on Paula Cole's album Harbinger). Most songs are in English, some are Spanish or a combination (with translations in the booklet). There are some very intense, sparse songs, with a beautiful classical Spanish guitar and evocative lyrics, in which Perla's voice shines, like the opening/closing song "Scarlet Thread" or the highlight of the album for me, "Iberia". Those songs almost have a Madredeus like quality and make the album already worthwhile for me. Other songs are more powerful and strong, like "Camino a Santiago", and there are some lush soft pop songs that stay on the right side of lushness. And some songs are too smooth, too much produced, too sweet, so they lose the emotional impact of the lyrics, which is a pity. But overall I find Mestiza a very enjoyable album to listen to. (Marion)

Bird on the Wire: The Songs of Leonard Cohen

Release info:

2005—Mechuda Music

Availability:

Wide

Ecto priority:

Highly recommended

Group members:

Perla Batalla

Guest artists:

Vinnie Colaiuta—drums (2-5, 9)
Debra Dobkin—drums and percussion (1, 4, 7)
Claud Mann—congas (2)
Bob Glaub—bass (2-6, 9)
David P. Jackson—bass and accordion (1, 7)
Bob Metzger—guitar and pedal steel (1-5, 7, 9)
Greg Leisz—guitar, pedal steel, mandolin (1, 2, 4, 9)
Charlie Benton—banjo (10)
Karen Hammack—piano
David Hidalgo—accordion (4)
Steve Weisberg—string arrangements
The Section with Simeon Pillich—strings
Julie Christensen, John Finley, Carl Graves—backing vocals (3, 5)
Bill Gable—featured on track 4
Eva Batalla-Mann—featured on track 10

Produced by:

Perla Batalla

Comments:

This album took me a while to get into, but I'm glad I gave it a chance, because once it clicked it's definitely worth listening to. It's not a record for every mood. Not quite melancholy, but there's something deep and pensive, a bit mysterious, perhaps even slightly disturbing about it. I really like the way she sings in Spanish on "Dance Me to the End of Love" and infuses several songs with Latin (Mexican?) sounds.
     It's not a perfect album; her version of "Famous Blue Raincoat" is unbearably dreary and a few tracks are well done but kind of dull. I'm not very familiar with Leonard Cohen's songs, and I don't know any of these originals (I've heard Tori Amos' cover of "Famous Blue Raincoat" and John Cale & Suzanne Vega's cover of "So Long, Marianne") so I don't know if what I find dull is more of a response to Cohen's songwriting or Batalla's recording. But that's only a very small part of the album, and overall I like it a lot. Perla's voice is powerful and the band is in good form. The album rewards not only repeat listening but extended listening. The two best tracks ("Bird on the Wire" and "Suzanne" are at the end. (JoAnn Whetsell)

We Three Kings

Release info:

2008—Mechuda—08 8450 10744 8 3

Availability:

Wide

Ecto priority:

Highly recommended

Comments:

This is a really beautiful album. Songs in Spanish and English, unusual arrangements, and a few non-holiday tracks make it one of the more original holiday albums out there and a good option for year-round listening. (JoAnn Whetsell)

Further info:

Songs on compilations include:

  • "Bird on a Wire" on Leonard Cohen: I'm Your Man (2006)
  • "Suzanne" and "Baila conmigo (Hasta al fin del amor)" on Acordes con Leonard Cohen (2007)
  • "Dance Me to the End of Love" on Acordes con Leonard Cohen Live (2010)
  • "Aquellas Pequeñas Cosas" on Señora: Ellas Cantan a Serrat (2010)
  • "Hey Look Me Over" on The Best Is Yet to Come—The Songs of Cy Coleman (2011)
Collaborations include:

  • "Tangazo"with Porkpie on Global Cocktail Chilled (2010)
  • "Suenos" with Bermudez Triangle and Coale Johnson on Bermudez Triangle's album The Sarita Collection (2011)
Perla Batalla can also be heard on backing vocals on Leonard Cohen's live cds from his 1988 and 1993 tours, Cohen Live—Leonard Cohen in concert (released in 1994).


Thanks to Marion Kippers amd JoAnn Whetsell for work on this entry.

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