Lila Downs, “Ofrenda”

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Lila Downs may be a purveyor of Latin alt-folklorico, singing jazz-tinged reworkings of Mexico's ranchera tradition, but, at her core, she's a diva of operatic proportions. To put it another way, Downs, a Mexican American artist who's built a career of crossing geographic and aesthetic borders, finds fuzzy points of overlap among seemingly disparate styles -- and shines a big spotlight on them. Strumming guitar and a swaying triple meter gesture towards the song's ranchera roots. But instead of the vivid brass often associated with the genre, we get tiptoeing, klezmer-like reeds. Still, it would just be a quirky little tune except for Downs' voice, which swells across a magnificent range: deep and throaty, high and soaring, small and nasal, it commands your attention. -- Rachel Devitt

"Ofrenda" Lila Downs

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