Before we get into the fascinating details behind Maria Usbeck’s new album Amparo, let me assure you that it’s supremely gorgeous music that you need in your life. The context lends these songs extra richness, but they’d still be striking even without knowing anything about them. You don’t even have to understand what Usbeck is singing to appreciate the depth of emotion and beauty here.
That said, how interesting is this? Usbeck grew up in Quito, Ecuador but moved to the US at age 17 and has long fronted the English-speaking Brooklyn rock band Selebrities. Feeling the pangs of homesickness, she recently decided to start writing songs in Spanish. Usbeck wrote Amparo in locations around the world including Ecuador, Buenos Aires, Santiago, Barcelona, Lisbon, Easter Island, Costa Rica, Florida, L.A. and her home in Brooklyn, peppering the lyrics with impressionistic detours into the local language of wherever she happened to be. She composed them electronically but translated them to acoustic arrangements while recording live in the studio. Chairlift’s Caroline Polachek co-produced the album, while Miles Benjamin Anthony Robinson engineered it.
Today she shares the project’s second single, “Uno De Tus Ojos,” which translates to “One Of Your Eyes.” It’s an airy, melancholy ballad that conjures a similar feeling to Chairlift’s “Crying In Public” or Yumi Zouma’s “It Feels Good To Be Around You,” that sense of drifting away into weightlessness until your sadness turns to bliss. Lead single “Moai Y Yo” is similarly beautiful but warmer and more rhythmically charged. Check out both songs below.