LAUREN HENDERSON, Alma Oscura
Besides having one of the most intimate, inviting and exquisitely sensual voices in the Latin jazz realm, New York based artist Lauren Henderson is quite the international over-achiever, musically and otherwise. She’s earned degrees in music and Hispanic studies, studied the traditional music of the Yucatan in Mexico and flamenco and jazz in Spain, received an Executive Master of Business Administration from Brown University and launched her own label Brontosaurus Records.
Henderson has also been prolific in the studio, now following her two 2018 releases, Armame and the EP Riptide with the eclectic, full length Alma Oscura, featuring her most passionate expression of Latin music, jazz and soul to date. Centered around the titular theme of the “dark soul,” the uber-romantic, percussively varied blend of sultry ballads and dramatic Latin dance expressions is a deeply personal exploration of culture, the downside of social norms, the uglier side of race relations (most notably, the brief but intensely impactful “El Arbol” about an interracial couple being hanged) and the many ways we approach the realities of love and our own mortality.
While the sonically magnificent album can be thoroughly enjoyed just for its melodies, seductive rhythms and Henderson’s voice, multiple listens reveal a raw social consciousness and courageous messaging that elevates her artistically above any other artist in her genre.