Crossing Cultures with Dom La Nena

I’m not going to lie, I’m really glad that Dom La Nena and her latest album, SOYO, turned out to be quite amazing, because my initial interest in agreeing...

I’m not going to lie, I’m really glad that Dom La Nena and her latest album, SOYO, turned out to be quite amazing, because my initial interest in agreeing to cover her stemmed primarily from hearing that, in her late teens, she had toured with Jeanne Moreau, the actress and singer who has served as a muse to cinema’s greatest in some of their greatest works, including Louis Malle, Truffaut, Antonioni, Orson Wells, Bunuel… Dom is a Brazilian cellist, vocalist, and songwriter who seems to have spent her life criss-crossing the globe, following any and every agreeable guidance or opportunity offered to her.  Dom was born in Porto Alegre, but spent her childhood divided between there and Paris, where her father attended university.  As a tween she moved to Argentina to study with American cellist Christine Walevska, whom she’d been writing for years, and at the age of 18 she embarked on a two-year tour with Jane Birkin (whose contributions to the culture of the “hip” are nearly as significant as Ms. Moreau)… which led to tours with Moreau and Etienne Daho…

2013 saw the release of Dom La Nena’s solo debut, Ela, which garnered praise from the likes of Time Out New York, who compared her to Joanna Newsom, and Wall Street Journal, who characterized her as  resembling, “a young Brian Wilson.”  Her latest album, SOYA, released earlier this year, has been accompanied by critical acclaim from NPR and The New York Times, who informally inducted her into “the sorority of whisperers,” in the same league as Juana Molina and Hope Sandoval.  The album, which was co-produced by Los Hermanos’ Marcelo Camelo, was recorded in Lisbon, Paris, and Mexico City, and presents the cultural diversity of Dom’s life’s settings and influences.  It also manages to balance poignant existential melancholy with something that is uplifting in a very lovely and eloquent manner… sometimes almost danceable… It is exceptionally reminiscent of early-mid-period Belle & Sebastian’s dabblings in traditional Latin music and the quieter side of Paris’ yé-yé scene… which, in my ears, includes some of the best sounds recorded in my lifetime… It may actually be the most introspectively touching work I’ve ever heard of which I understand almost none of the words (“Carnaval” is the only track in English.)


Dom La Nena is currently on a US tour of intimate venues that will have her performing upstairs at World Café Live this Friday, April 3rd, which I’m entirely hoping and somewhat betting will be the most up-close-and-personal setting this artist of such diversely profound magnitudes ever sees in the City of Brotherly Love and Sisterly Affection.

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During the day Izzy Cihak teaches transgression, subversion, and revolution at Temple University. At night he haunts Philthy's best venues to cover worthwhile acts for Philthy Mag. Morrissey is everything to him and, in their own heads, all of his friends see themselves as Zooey Deschanel.