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A nod from Leonel García to José Alfredo Jiménez with Past Love

The singer Leonel Garcia pays an emotional tribute to the Mexican singer-songwriter, José Alfredo Jiménez, one of the most remembered of vernacular music.

The former member of the group of Without flag, Leonel García set to music an unpublished song by the icon of Mexican regional music for his new album, "Past Love."

The also Mexican singer-songwriter and former member of the famous duet Without flag received authorization from the publisher Jiménez to choose an unpublished song by the author of "El Rey", "If we are left", "A rare world", to name a few.

He himself, he revealed, at one point felt overwhelmed but finally chose the song "Mala" and set it to music, trying to take it to what would have been a past reference for Jiménez, Mexican music from the early 20th century, almost turning it into a waltz .

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The lyrics address the story of a woman who was mean to someone who gave herself to her with kindness, she says.

"It was also an emotional treasure to see what things he had written Jose Alfredo that they had stayed there ... do the exercise of exploring what felt more finished, what felt more complete, what felt more likely to what he would have wanted, "he said Garcia.

I would call it, like visual artists, an ‘intervention’ to a work by José Alfredo ”.

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"Past love" is the theme that completes the trilogy started by Garcia with "Amor Futuro" in 2014 and continued with "Amor Presente" in 2018. This time he tried to slow down the revolutions in interpreting classics of the Mexican songbook with guest figures such as Natalia Lafourcade, iLe and Melissa Robles of the Matisse trio.

Similarly, the album also includes the original theme of Garcia, "Lo que me queriste", which also delves into this heavy rhythm marked by acoustic guitars.

I think that by lowering the intensity people have a better chance to hear the lyrics and focus on the vocal performance. There are people who have listened to the album or songs and they tell me, 'I hadn't realized everything that song was saying and I've been singing it for 20 years,' ”he said.

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On a vocal level, he did not try to imitate anyone but to approach a Caetano Veloso style, when interpreting “Cucurrucucú paloma”, or that of the famous Chavela Vargas, who was accompanied only by guitars.

Both Caetano and Chavela achieved this vocal intimacy. It was all about listening to them sing and that's where I think we have to go, ”Garcia said.

Authors' songs including those of: Cuco Sánchez, Tomás Méndez, Juan and David Záizar, included in the album, evoke the parties in which their mother performed at parties. Already in his teens, he listened to Shakira, Coldplay and Radiohead.

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However, Garcia space was also given to interpret some of Jose Alfredo like her". Now 45 years old, he celebrates the musical and personal experience he has achieved to be able to make his own versions of these songs, for which he points out: “they must have broken your heart at least a couple of times”.

"You must have cried, recovered, got drunk and went with a friend to a canteen to heal the sorrows of love ... They are like photos that stay here and when it comes to recording these songs you use spite, drunkenness , the pains ”, he said Garcia, who recounted that he relaxed his throat with a couple of tequilas before filming.

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In the same way, he took the time to share a bit the history and context of the chosen themes, as well as his invited artists, in a series of videos entitled "Episodes", available on the YouTube channel of Garcia.

It is also a way to unify and put the song in a global context, which is a bit what we are looking for with this album, that it be an album for all the people of the world, "he said.

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Linda Hopkins

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