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Song of You

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Gaby Moreno: 'Song of You'

Gaby Moreno: 'Song of You'

Song of You

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Guatemalan-born singer-songwriter Gaby Moreno. Marija Thomas hide caption

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Marija Thomas

Guatemalan singer and songwriter Gaby Moreno left her Central American home for Los Angeles in 2001, where she proceeded to immerse herself in the local music scene and enroll in classes at the Musicians Institute. Her efforts have recently begun to pay off: in 2006, she won the John Lennon Songwriting Contest (part of the annual Maxell Song of the Year awards) with the tune "Escondidos." And this year, she's finally released her debut album, Still the Unknown.

Still the Unknown largely ventures through uncomplicated acoustic guitar pop territory, but it's still an entirely pleasant record that is buoyed by Moreno's soft, soulful vocals. "Over the twilight blue / The eyes that I stared into / They shine and sing a song of you," she coos on "Song of You," a sweet and gently swaying tune. But that's not at all to say that Moreno is cheesy or juvenile. Actually, it's the innocence of "Song of You" and others like it that makes this record so delightful. Another of the most appealing aspects of Still the Unknown is the moments when Moreno switches to lyrics in her native Spanish. The most striking instance of this is on the bilingual "Ampola," an irresistibly gorgeous piano ballad that conjures the romantic allure of vintage crooners.

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But Moren's debut isn't only about tugging at listeners' heartstrings. She mixes things up on the deliciously funky "Greenhorne Man," which was recently featured in an episode of the TV series Lincoln Heights. The song provides a chance for her to belt out her vocals and show off a heftier tone that suits her well. Whether Moreno decides to stick with pop, soul or Latin (or a fusion of all three) for future releases, Still the Unknown is a promising debut that indicates she won't go unnoticed for much longer.

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