YOU CAN’T PICK YOUR SORROWS. Cordero knows this first-hand. After an unfortunate string of family and friend crises, bandleader Ani Cordero found herself physically and emotionally drained, and grasping for fragments of hope and solace. Finding writing on her mother’s nylon string guitar in her native tongue to be far more immediate and personal, the compositions that Ani wrote for De Donde Eres are exclusively in Spanish.
While Ani and husband Chris Verene (formerly of The Rock*A*Teens) are best known for their critically acclaimed, tension-laden independent rock, with De Donde Eres, the band has taken a sideroute away from the anxious and angular sounds of En Este Momento or Lamb Lost in the City. De Donde Eres finds Cordero further exploring the rhythmic intricacies of Latin music while turning down the guitar amps for a much more quiet and inward set of songs. Ani’s ever-nimble guitar patterns are threaded around Latin percussion, pulsing bass notes and bright horn lines as the band wrings a both-sides-of-the-border mystery out of gentle melodies that pay tribute to forebears such as Nick Drake, Belle and Sebastian, and Os Mutantes.
Thematically, De Donde Eres runs the gamut of emotions. While many songs--such as the ruminative “Guardasecretos”—find Cordero exploring the internal experience, album starter “Quique” is an immediate call to the dance floor, shot through with equal servings of melancholy and exuberant hopefulness. “La Yegua” (“The Mare”) is a powerful statement of women’s independence, staking out a place somewhere between brave, wild and fierce, while “Ruleta Rusa” (“Russian Roulette”) castigates the greed of the profit-driven corporations and governments.
Cordero’s music is clearly a product of its creative and cultural diaspora. An indie-rock band with Latin roots, Cordero is led by a woman of Puerto Rican descent who calls Brooklyn her home but still finds a kinship with many other places—Tucson, Atlanta, and other points on the map where she has lived or performed.
The album title translates as “where are you from?” Indeed, “Where is she from?” has been the primary question from audiences and press alike. Ten years on stage responding to that same question has led the band to answer randomly, sometimes teasingly naming places like Atlanta, which while partly truth, is rarely exotic enough to satisfy the person asking.
Ultimately, De Donde Eres stands as a battle scarred— yet uplifting—document of heartache and joy on a scale both universal and intimately personal, displaying a multicultural rock outfit at the top of its powers.