By Pati deVries. Photo: Ojo De Loba
Some bands you can always recognize -- they produce the same sound, even the same song, year after year. But great musicians don’t just keep playing, they constantly evolve. Aloud’s new record, Sprezzatura , is a showcase for a band joyfully shedding the old and moving boldly forward, both sonically and lyrically.
The record marks a maturation for Aloud’s Henry Beguiristain and Jen de la Osa. The pair have been making music since their teenage years in Miami, where a shared passion for rock bands like Oasis and The Who set them apart from many of their peers in the working-class Cuban community both grew up in.
“From the beginning, music has been a way to express ourselves, and to grapple with the major issues in our lives,” de la Osa said. “Back then, we didn’t always feel like we fit in, but music set us apart. It gave us an identity.”
That identity is powerfully clear on Sprezzatura , whose songs grapple with everything from sexual desire in the energetic neo-soul song “Loving U’s A Beautiful Thing”; to the kind of late-night soul searching that might lead you to uproot everything you’ve ever known in the lyrical, occasionally mournful, but uptempo ballad “Waiting (Scenes From A Lonely Planet)”; to the raw, full-throated need to tell truth to power in the galvanic rock anthem “Hungry Land.” The band’s propulsive, soul-influenced rock sound underpins complex, emotional lyrics, a juxtaposition that makes the singles all the more memorable.
From beginning to end, the album is a raucous, joyful explosion. Heavily influenced by the Muscle Shoals sound, Sprezzatura was recorded at Mad Oak Studios, co-produced with Benny Grotto (Magnetic Fields, Ben Folds, Weird Al) and mixed by Grammy award winner Guy Massey (Paul McCartney, The Libertines, Ray Davies).
The excitement animating the record is even more palpable in the band’s high energy live shows, which have earned them comparisons to blues rock icons The Alabama Shakes and The Black Keys. Longtime bassist Charles Murphy and drummer Chris Jago build a propulsive scaffolding for the addition of colorful horns, provided by saxophonist Alanah Ntzouras and trumpetist Vanessa Acosta. Upbeat, pop-rock guitars prop up de la Osa’s signature throaty growl and Beguiristain’s lilting melodies (the two alternate between lead vocals and harmonies), filling out the band’s exciting, effervescent wall of sound.
“To me, growing up is about learning who you are… and how to stop trying to be anyone else,” Beguiristain said. “This album is all about moving past what you’re told to be, or to want, or to feel. It’s about letting go of things that weigh you down and being fully yourself.”
It’s clear from the driving, powerful force of Sprezzatura that Aloud is more than ready to come into their own, and step into the spotlight.