2018 was a really big year for Latin music of all varieties, but for the jazz stylings of singer Labán, it presented only a preview of what 2019 would bring. Following up on the songs “Dueños de Aquí” and “Quién da Más,” this April sees the Mexican-born songwriter issuing his latest single “Para Ti,” which blends a rollicking rhythm into a stately jazz melody that packs as hefty a punch as one could ask for in a modern pop song. There’s a lot to dissect in this track, from the instrumental intricacies to the lush lyrical content, but as conceptual and multilayered a single as “Para Ti” is, it’s actually one of the more accessible songs that I’ve heard out his scene in the last four months.
The beats are a focal point here, but they aren’t given an overstated presence in the master mix. They’re evenly arranged alongside the delicately dispensed lyrics, which are executed with a conservative reticence in Labán that only maximizes the illustrious energy in his vocal. The string play is super evocative all by itself, and serves the track exceptionally well with its minimally distorted solo. There’s an indulgence in the bass that doesn’t interrupt the flow of the percussion at all, and I think that the texture that it gives to the main melody is what sets this single apart from any other that Labán has released so far. He’s got the charm of an old school jazz singer in this song, but his approach is anything but archaic.
“Para Ti” has a streamlined production quality that, to my surprise, doesn’t sacrifice any of the radiant tonality in the strings in an attempt to give most of the spotlight over to the vocal track. It’s a lot more polished a single than “Quién da Más,” but it doesn’t feel like an imitative mainstream melody wrapped in colorful pop cosmetics. It’s been said before by several of my peers in music journalism, but I’ll say it again now; Labán isn’t the sort of songwriter who we expect to lean on the leverage that a supremely high definition mix can provide him. He’s got a talent that doesn’t require the same primping that some of his less than natural contemporaries would in making original material, and that’s made crystal clear in this track.
Labán is known for his golden pipes, but a song like “Para Ti” highlights his knack for cultivating a bold rhythm out of a black and white beat just as much as it does his sweet singing abilities. I’ve had the opportunity to hear some really moving Latin pop lately, but I don’t know that I’ve listened to another artist in the genre with the depth of self-consciousness that this guy brings with him into every stitch of music that he makes. What’s more is that, ultimately, I don’t even think that “Para Ti,” or the other two singles from the upcoming LP Todos Somos Dueños de Aquí are fully representative of what he could accomplish in a no-holds-barred situation. He’s got some room for growth, but there’s not a doubt in my mind that Labán is currently in the top tier of his recording class.
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