Every Monday through Friday, we deliver a different song as part of our Song of the Day podcast subscription. This podcast features exclusive KEXP in-studio performances, unreleased songs, and recordings from independent artists that our DJs think you should hear. Today’s song, featured on the Morning Show with John Richards, is “El Tren” by Natalia Clavier from the 2013 album Lumen on Nacional.
Born in Buenos Aires, Natalia Clavier followed her musical journey to three continents as she honed her Latin folk and hip-hop tinged songs. Although she was raised in Argentina, her musical endeavors began to take shape when she met Argentinian ex-pat Federico Aubele in Barcelona, where the duo crafted Clavier’s debut album, 2008’s jazz and soul-inflected Nectar. Extensive touring, which resulted in a live album recorded at Seattle’s own Triple Door, brought Clavier to the attention of Thievery Corporation’s Rob Garza, who enlisted her as the downtempo group’s live vocalist, a role she still fills today. In between TC tours, Clavier moved to Brookyln, where she began work on another solo album, which became this year’s Lumen. The new album contains some English singing, but the change in language is only one of Clavier’s stylistic shifts on her latest album. Lumen was written in Brooklyn, and appropriately, hip-hop elements anchor “El Tren”. Rallied around a descending, “Glory Box“-style piano line, Clavier’s vocals melodically slither around the rhythm section, until she reaches the chorus line “paso el tren” – and reaches a devastating emotional peak. Steady in its pace and unrelenting in its delivery, “El Tren” is an enrapturing song tune that relies on maintained, not fluctuating, tension for its powerhouse delivery.
Natalia Clavier is on the road with Thievery Corporation at the moment, but if she announces any solo dates, they’ll be posted on her website and Facebook. She did recently record a session live on KEXP from the Cutting Room Studios NYC, which you can listen to here, and you can watch the official video for the Lumen cut “Trouble” below: