Francesca Ancarola

Victor Jara was one of Chile's top folk composers, educators, and political activists until the time of his murder in 1973 during a military coup. On a newly released CD, Chilean vocalist Francesca Ancarola has found an amorous way of paying tribute to the fallen songwriter by revisiting his work (poems and compositions) while keeping the music's roots intact. On the album, Lonquén (named after the city where Jara's remains were discovered), Ancarola and her band blend modern and traditional instruments such as the cuatro and the cajón, creating a powerful backbeat that brings each tune to life. The song "El Cigarrito" begins with a soft melody that grows in intensity, giving Ancarola a chance to explore her broad vocal range. There's a lot of thought put into each song on the album. Check out the stirring track "El Derecho de Vivir en Paz" ("The Right to Live in Peace"), a song written in protest of the war in Vietnam, which sounds especially moving with the Iraq conflict in mind. Other selections, such as Pablo Neruda's "Poema 15," provide complex flamenco arrangements and poignant lyrics that should pluck at listeners' hearts whether they're able to understand Spanish or not. Lonquén not only has the ability to spread the legacy of Jara, but can also stand alone as a solid contribution of Chilean music that has been missing in recent years.