What You See Is What You Get

Like neo-folk songster Devendra Banhart, London-born singer-songwriter Jeremias grew up in Venezuela, a country that once counted with a high population of hippie expats. And like Banhart, he loves to write roots music, except that in Jeremias's case, the tunes are sung solely in Spanish.

Although love, betrayal, and redemption might seem like common themes for most musicians, in the often-prefab bubblegum world of Latin pop, it can be rare to find an artist willing to play original music outside the mainstream sound. What sets Jeremias (a.k.a. Carlos Eduardo López Ávila) apart from the usual Latin brat packers is his fondness for a style known as trova — a Cuban folk-political music genre from the Sixties, made popular by singers such as Joan Manuel Serrat and Roy Brown. Jeremias also enjoys mixing his acoustic guitar trovas with elements of salsa and Tropicália, even adding some of the Eighties pop he grew up loving.

The result of this rare blend was the 2006 album Lo Que Hay Es Lo Que Ves (What You See Is What You Get), a record full of inspired, laid-back compositions with a particularly modern vibe, especially the decidedly mature and melodious "Uno y Uno Es Igual a Tres" ("One and One Equals Three"). For his followup, Un Dia Mas en el Circo (Another Day in the Circus), released late last year, the Venezuelan singer picks up were his last album left off. The discordant chords of the social critique "Juan de Afuera" prove his heart and soul remain in the right place.

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José Dávila