Silvana Estrada finds strength amidst heartache in the music of ‘Marchita’

“Marchita” (“Withered”), her breakthrough record released in January, finds Mexican singer-songwriter Silvana Estrada in full bloom of love loss.

With titles such as “Te Guardo” (“I Guard You”) and “Tristeza” (“Sadness”), Estrada, who is 24, admits that “Marchita” is “all about grief and longing. … I needed to make this album,” she said. Although she was “invested in the journey to come to terms” with her first heartbreak, she instead chose to focus on how to whose anxiety can lead to emotional growth.

“For me, this album, like maybe all albums, is an attempt to understand the inner world. This world gives you the strength to fight or go – you need something to keep you [grounded]Estrada said during a stop on her first headlining tour, which ends March 2 in Schubas. “Music has the power to give you a connection to reality and to others – that’s so important. Where I grew up was very isolated and music was a way to connect to the community.

The daughter of two luthiers, Estrada grew up along the Gulf of Mexico coast in the state of Veracruz, the birthplace of her son Jarocho, one of many folk genres defining Mexico. But his first musical interests were jazz and baroque choral music. This kaleidoscopic mix is ​​reflected on “Marchita,” which calls “steeped in tradition but far from traditional.”

“I come from a folk aesthetic, but I also have many roots in the world,” she said of her style, which she describes as “musica de raíz” (roots music).

Recorded in Mexico City over four days, “Marchita” is Estrada’s third release and his first for New York-based Glassnote Records (home to British folk rockers Mumford & Sons). Its producer and musical director Gustavo Guerrero, who also worked with Mexican singer-songwriter Natalia Lafourcade, brought together a mainly acoustic ensemble of keyboards, strings, reeds and unusual percussion (glockenspiel), as well as guitars and basses. .

“Music has the power to give you a connection to reality and to others – that’s so important. Where I grew up was very isolated and music was a way to connect to the community” , explains Mexican singer-songwriter Silvana Estrada.
Sol Talamantes

At the center of the mix is ​​the Venezuelan cuatro, a four-string guitar, which Estrada has adopted as his signature instrument. “It was all about harmony, especially jazz harmony,” she said. “It was magical that I got to know the cuatro. A regular guitar was too big and my hands were too small. I needed something different. I started playing it and fell deeply in love with it. The tuning [of the cuatro] is so special. It looks unique – modern but also folk. My mind was blown. “

The cuatro remains in the spotlight on this tour, which marks only his second visit to Chicago. “It’s a beautiful city. I like the energy, but I don’t like the cold,” she laughed. architectural.”

Coincidentally, the tour ends on Ash Wednesday, the first day of Lent, which is often celebrated with the words: “Remember dust you are, and to dust you will return.” This passage, especially when rendered in Spanish (“Acuérdate que eres polvo y al polvo volverás”), seems to capture the spirit of “Marchita”.

“I don’t know much about the Bible or religion in general, but these words remind me of the album, and the message that love is like a flower, a beautiful gift, and how it can die,” she said. “And how each flower must die to let other flowers grow.”

With such statements, Estrada displays wisdom beyond her years, but she insists she is “deeply normal.” Her songs and her conversation may indicate that she knows “what I’m doing, but in my normal life, I don’t,” she said. “I like to talk and say what I think. I spend a lot of time thinking about these things. Although she admits that she has “a facility with words”, she, like most people, thinks that she’s “pretty bad” at the game of life.

It’s a life that generated a lot of introspection, especially for someone so young, but also anguish, as the last lines of “Tristeza” indicate: “I beg you again: Sadness , leave me alone.

As for how someone can experience such heartache so early in life, she said, “Well, I don’t know, really. I guess it depends on how your sensitivity works. I have a particular interest in understanding the beauty of things that aren’t so beautiful. What interests me is finding the light inside dark things.

In concert, Estrada feels “like a happy person in general. I don’t know why I’m drawn to dark feelings. But in those dark places you are able to understand how feelings work and find light, joy. Every feeling is part of a full life.