This collection of 13 songs, from poets and songwriters throughout the world, performed, arranged and produced by Luna Pena, an artist of many talents, foremost among which is her interpretation of the essence of a sound, its primordial growth, is a welcome and calming antidote to the rising tide of political dissonance whose aim, ultimately, is division.
It might be stretching it to say that the poems on Archivo Pittoresco espouse a soulful or spiritual inclusiveness, but certainly Pena’s singing, which sounds to the untrained ear as Portugeuse phado meets French chanson, is anything but harsh or discordant.
She can imbue the lyrical lines from a French, Spanish, Mexican, Chilean, Greek, Sardinian and English source with the rich textures of her voice and plaintive guitar: the sound is Iberian but she loves and delivers the words as well as Jara** or Piaf or Brel.
So the mood and the tempo are consistent: there is no switching of gears, no fluctuation in ambience, and while, for practical reasons, each performance is an entity within its own delineation, Pena’s concept is for Archivo Pittoresco to be a single piece.
Gifted as she is at intuitively feeling the aura and feel of a song, irrespective of the language (the Sardinian A Diosa stayed in her memory for 20 years after she first heard it), she is a purveyor of semantic flexibility, where a word is indeterminately bordered and therefore different in various languages.
Pena can tame a lyric like a wild mustang, without depriving it of its freedom: Deus E Grande could be construed as about religion in the institutional sense, but Pena draws attention to its etymological root, re-ligare, or making connections.
Archivo Pittoresco is also a musical journey by Pena intentionally tracing 19th century landscape artists who wandered intuitively and borderless, their aim no less than a collective unconscious. Jungian archetypes aside, the vocalist behind these songs is also interested in what they have in common.
Much, as it turns out. Ojos Si Quereis Vivir segues into Las Penas and Lena skilfully addresses the yin and yang of the spiritual and corporeal song lines of emotion, of love and desire.