Review Ulises Hadjis – Cosas Perdidas
It takes more than one listen to realise how innocently complex Ulises Hadjis’s new record, Cosas Perdidas, really is. Putting his knowledge of sociology, philosophy and psychoanalysis to work, Hadjis has created a set of 15 intertwined tracks that gives us a tour through the complexities and contradictions of being human. Using simple pop melodies and string arrangements, the musician, along with some famous collaborators, explores loneliness, dreams, loss, yearning and the inevitability of leaving home.
Cosas Perdidas is an intricately planned affair. Each track feeds off the sentiment and mood of the others, making the album a rollercoaster of emotions for the listener. But more than that, Hadjis’s lyrics touch upon pertinent themes in the lives of the young (and not so young). An example of this is the album opener, “Dónde Va”, a song written in collaboration with novelist Leo Felipe Campos, about a person leaving town to try his or her luck elsewhere. “Si te vas y no nos piensas más. Si te pierdes en lo que puedes ser y ver. Cuántas cosas por ver, cuántas cosas por olvidar, enterrar. Aquí todos hablan de ti, todos temen lo que no está… Extrañarte, pensar.” (If you leave and never think about us; if you get lost in what you can be and see. There’s so much to see; so many things to forget and burry. Everyone here talks about you. They all fear what is not there… Missing you, thinking.) Like Drexler and so many others before him, Hadjis manages to capture with his lyrics the drama and the nostalgia of leaving, the fear about the future and the longing for what is left behind.
One of the many good things about this album is that Hadjis’s music and his songwriting are quite subtle in their approach. Yes, one of the uniting themes of the album is melancholy, but the musician doesn’t slap listeners in the face with overused metaphors and sappy sentimentality. On the contrary, Cosas Perdidas is introspective and intimate in its approach. Some of the best songs on the album are the ones that are stripped down to their basic elements, like the slow folk track “Luces, Colores” and the bossa nova tinged “Lo Haré”. This last song features Lo Blondo (Denise Gutierrez) from Mexico’s Hello Seahorse! Another noteworthy track on the album is the short and jolly “El Plan”. The song, about a perfectly orchestrated heist involving a swordfish, a turtle and a stolen anchor, feels almost like a nostalgic ode to innocence.
The album also features collaborations from Marian Ruzzi (from Julieta Venegas’s band), Juan Manuel Torreblanca, Cheba Massolo and Luigi Castillo. Cosas Perdidas gained some international praise for Hadjis. On October 11th, the Venezuelan was nominated in three Latin Grammy categories, including Best New Artist, Best Alternative Music Album and Best Rock Song.
Even though the majority of its tracks follow the folk pop aesthetic, the album is not a one note release. The songs vary in tempo and intensity, including the fast paced “Víctima” and the dance pop song “Aquella Ciudad”. It’s interesting to note that even when the Maracaibo singer/songwriter experiments with more commercial rhythms, he always returns to his original folk rock form, which is where his songs work best. Needless to say, Hadjis is a great story teller. As a true teacher, in Cosas Perdidas he manages to lead his listeners through the contradictory nature of emotions and the innocence and melancholy involved in the human experience.
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