Naked Tunes by Leonino: Album Review

by thethreepennyguignol

It’s pretty rare that you hear someone described as “the voice of youth” in a credible way. I mean, how often to people set themselves up as the great musical liberators of a generation when they’re usually little more than slightly moody teens who saved up enough paper round money to buy a twangy acoustic guitar? But even I can’t deny that Chilean Jorge Gonzalez earns that title without question. The lead singer of iconic Chilean rock band Los Prisoneros, he led a musical assault on Pinochet’s regime with sharp satire and lashings of talent. And now he’s out here on his own as Leonino, debuting his new album Naked Tunes this September 15th.

Because we’re magical musical critics towards whom all notable releases gravitate, Naked Tunes was bound to end up in my inbox sooner or later. And how glad I am that it did. Naked Tunes is the album of someone who’s got a handful of albums behind him, a confidence in his own style, and the ability and style to pull it off. From cocky, sarcastic album opener I Think We Should Be Friends (think The Beatles after a break-up) to echoey ballad There Is A Light, this album knows what it is and is here to explain it to you in no uncertain terms.

There are flickers of the revolutionary here, even still, with tracks like After The Big War calling for a human closeness and There Is A Light confidently declaring freedom after struggle. It’s all held together by an artfully jaggedy guitar, lending the whole album a comforting, rousing live-performance feel. A few of the songs take advantage of great local artists to give them a sense of depth and community-How Many Times delights in poppy harmony as Gonzalez joins forces with Argenis Brito.

But beyond what he’s been known for in the past, Gonzalez is clearly keen to carve out a new name for himself. As Leonino, his songs are defiantly excellent, a blend of pop and rock that will please fans of either genre. Sure, some of his songs lean on romance and passion as mainstays, but others aren’t afraid to strike out in Gogol-Bordello-esque folk-hero numbers that push his bilingual song-writing to a new level. If he wanted to define himself again, Gonzalez couldn’t have picked a better album to do it with than Naked Tunes.

Quick-Fire Review

Out of Ten: 9

Best Songs: Don’t Change Your Mind, There Is a Light

Listen If: You’re looking for a more mellow Gogol Bordello.

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