Today on the 23rd of July 2020 Keren Abreu is releasing her Spanish/English debut EP with five songs touching on queerness, afro-latinidad, spirituality and home, and we get to share this music with our Tonemillers! It is not just a premiere but our FIRST premiere, and your Tonemamas are honored to have ÉXITO as the premiere of all premieres (doesn’t the word ‘premiere’ start looking weird after reading it five times?)

Keren’s background in musical theatre is evident from the very first track. ÉXITO starts with a catchy and uplifting song welcoming us to her home in the Bronx, or the “Boogie” as she calls it. She perfectly sets the scene by taking our hands and inviting us through her borough through vivid lyrics and vibrant instrumentation. 

It’s always special when you feel like you get to know an artist through their music, and this is certainly the case with ÉXITO. On the next track, “Salvation” she delivers a powerful spiritual ballad that balances between a country soundscape with some jazzy ornamentations. 

Next we get to hear a fully Spanish track, “En Guayubín No Llueve” meaning something along the lines of, it never rains in Guayubín (a town in the Dominican Republic). The festivity of this track is fully supported by a band of excellent musicians who perfectly etch out bewitching Latin rhythms. The energy of this track is playful with tight and admirably executed arrangements. 

ÉXITO is truly a dynamic work. Again, we have to celebrate Keren’s musical theatre chops that have left traces all throughout this work. For one, there is a deliberate build from song to song. “Sugar” is your Tonemamas’ absolute favorite track. I mean seriously, has there been a more ‘feel-good-easy-listen’ song written in this century since Maroon 5’s “Sunday Morning”? (Answer no, so let’s all take a moment of gratitude for Keren Abreu). 

If ÉXITO is mirrored after a Broadway musical chronicling an epic saga about life in the Bronx, then of course we have to expect an explosive closing number that gets you out of your chair, clapping along until your hands are tingling and leaving you dancing all the way back to your front door. And Keren does not upset expectations – “Tu Sí Puedes” instantly takes us back to the days when we could sit mask-free in theatres, jamming along to greats like Hairspray’s “You Can’t Stop the Beat”. 

Although we are fan-girling over Keren Abreu, your Tonemamas have to take a moment to acknowledge her musicians – there is a quality of musicianship that you simply cannot ignore. In a world of samples, loops and perfectly quantized midi and sequenced drums it is SO REFRESHING to listen to a group of musicians who have totally and wholly excelled in their craft. 

We are delighted to be catching this shooting star as she’s taking off and making her merry way into higher stratospheres. Tonemillers, go and listen to ÉXITO – and that is not a request, it’s an order. 

Listen for this moment: As it goes from the beautiful high-energy, tidy-chaos around 2:50 on “En Guayubín No Llueve” and transitions into the sparse acapella beginning of “Sugar”. Yes, that hits the spot. 

Best enjoyed: When you’re commuting to work and the coffee just isn’t doing the trick of brightening up your day! → Sunshine guarantee.

Check out Keren here

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