Ana Tijoux
La Bala

The daughter of political exiles who fled Santiago for Paris during the oppressive rule of Augusto Pinochet, Ana Tijoux — born Anamaria Merino in France in 1977 — previously fronted the Chilean rap group Makiza before striking out on her own a decade ago.

Here, with her third solo album, she again reveals herself to be an arresting and self-possessed performer, an MC with impeccable command and flow, whether she’s urging her now-global audience to speak out against injustice and oppression or riding a languorous, acid-jazz groove. The album-opening title track, the English translation of which is “the bullet,” detonates the proceedings with marching beats punctuated by military drum rolls. “Shock,” which follows,” is spurred by implacable rhythms and politically-charged rhymes. “Desclasificado” conveys a similar urgency and is haunted by ominous synthesizer fills, while “Las Cosas Por Su Nombre” employs an arrangement bordering on musique concrete to claustrophobic but mesmerizing effect.

Though steadfastly — and righteously — political, not everything is unrelenting or intense. “Mi Mitad” features Moog synthesizer and spacey atmospherics, suggesting the French duo Air’s work with singer Charlotte Gainsbourg. “Sacar La Voz” turns on a lovely, piano-based melody and “Quizas,” which is more of a recitation than a rap, calls to mind Stevie Wonder or Lauryn Hill at their jazziest. The languorous set-closer, meanwhile, gains elegance from a chamber string section, its title, “Volver,” serving both as Tijoux’s musical and political statement of purpose — that is, to turn things upside down and inside out.

Bill Friskics-Warren

Recommended Tracks

“La Bala,” “Shock,” “Mi Mitad”

Ana Tijoux's “La Bala” (Courtesy of Nacional Records)