From the magazine
4 of 4 stars
Release Date: 9/7/2007
Manu Chao is nothing if not multicultural, said Eric R. Danton in The Hartford Courant. Born in France to Spanish parents who had fled Generalissimo Franco’s repressive regime, Chao sings in English, French, Spanish, Portuguese, and Arabic on La Radiolina, often switching languages in mid-song. In every tongue, he’s an advocate for the downtrodden. He speaks out against the Bush administration and the war in Iraq while simultaneously lamenting his romantic disappointments. “The jumble of languages and sounds gives La Radiolina the feel of a noisy, colorful street bazaar where there’s chaotic beauty on the surface and a certain poetic logic that runs underneath.” That logic is often complex, said Agustin Gurza in the Los Angeles Times. Chao favors loops and layers, repeating themes and riffs for a hypnotic effect. You can’t really appreciate the complexity of this music unless you’re familiar with “the singer-songwriter’s entire body of work, a series of musical and thematic threads that weave from track to track, album to album over almost a decade.” That’s where Chao’s idea of “desarraigo” comes in, said Achy Obejas in The Washington Post. Desarraigo is a Spanish word that means dislocation or uprooting. By coming back again and again to the same musical themes, Chao uproots the meanings behind the riffs, placing them in new contexts to further his ideas of love and world politics.
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