La Jardinera takes its title from a song by Violeta Parra, just one of the many South American songwriters that Silvana Kane pays tribute to. Mostly covers of her inspirations, the songs of La Jardinera are well-furnished with deft use of guitar, saxophone, and kalimba, peppered with some field recordings. The resulting feeling is one of a large open space, like a quiet street on a summer day with a slow breeze.

The first three tracks are the clearest display of this pristine setting. “Cardo O Ceniza” opens with watery sounds and Kane’s whispery voice, which is soon joined by the gently swaying band. “Como La Cigarra” is a sweet and simple guitar song, and the spiraling banjo of “Cruces,” one of Kane’s own songs, is a bit darker. As the album progresses, the sound becomes fuller, the echoing emptiness of the first tracks being instead filled with kalimba reverberations and bells in “Soy Pan, Soy Paz, Soy Más” and “Vida Llena.”

Unfortunately, not every song is clearly distinguished. It’s difficult to uphold this delicate form for an entire album and not have some songs that just drag along. In “La Jardinera” and “Yo Vendo Unos Ojos Negros,” the sweetness and sentimentality conveyed in the music begins to become a bit too much, forming a hardened sugar residue at the bottom that even the airiness of Kane’s voice can’t cut through.

By the time “Todo Cambia” and “Yo Vengo A Ofrecer Mi Corazón” roll around, there are some electronics added to the mix, which does less to complement to the songs than to stifle them. This progressive elaboration upon the form of the initial tracks diminishes the quality in my estimation, and though the first 10 minutes offered something refreshing, the rest of the album, sadly, does not follow suit.

In A Word: Mellow

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