Carla Morrison Across Borders: A Review of ‘El Renacimiento’

Carla Morrison © Esteban Calderón
Carla Morrison © Esteban Calderón
Carla Morrison’s ‘El Renacimiento’ treads a shimmering register of embracing an electro-pop sensibility while evoking a transnational way of life across borders.
Stream: ‘El Renacimiento’ – Carla Morrison

Years ago, I deeply inhabited the cities of León and Guanajuato through my own crossing of borders from Canada in my years of sojourn in the interiority of México. I was particularly entranced with the city of Guanajuato which deeply embodied colonial imprints within a particularly contemporary European influence in its own organic Mexican aesthetic. The colonial architecture and the approach to restaurants, bars, nightlife and the intimate frame of life in Guanajuato seemed like a place out of time.

Yet it is also so very ultramodern, much like Montréal is entirely unlike the rest of Canada in the most intimate and revealing way in echoing a cosmopolitan European way of life within a colonial past. A different reality is being created in how life can be lived in these cities as to them becoming exceptional examples of living beyond the national narrative of how one identifies and belongs amidst the perception of cultural origins itself. This creates a very unique manner of living life in a simultaneous historical and contemporary way that is timeless and culturally porous. This exact perspective informs a transnational global sensibility much like Carla Morrison’s latest album performs on this precise realm.

El Renacimiento - Carla Morrison
El Renacimiento – Carla Morrison

I reflect on my time in those cities as I listen to Carla Morrison’s invigorating third studio LP El Renacimiento wherein she charts her own renaissance in coming to new forms of self-discovery. Morrison has her own unique global journey in life through being born in Baja California, México, to her life in Phoenix, the last few years in Paris, and most recently in her relocation to Los Angeles.

Carla Morrison’s El Renacimiento treads a shimmering register of embracing an electro-pop sensibility while evoking a transnational life way of life across borders. This album captivates as Morrison explores traces of the self that transcend the physical and imaginary borders that we have constructed in our own midst in the 21st Century.

She also simultaneously situates a poignantly framed level of self-reflection in her personal renaissance as expressed from the beginning of this LP in the song “Hacia Dentro.” The voyage in this album continually revolves around dimensions of inner turmoil alongside the rejuvenation of her vision on life and music.

The music of Carla Morrison is deeply embedded within popular culture through how her song “Esta Soledad” from her very first 2009 EP Aprendiendo a Aprender became the theme song of the remarkable Mexican series Soy tu Fan. This series starring Ana Claudia Talancón was a touchstone that dramatically revisions the representation of Mexican peoples and Mexican identity through how the characters in this series inhabit the quotidian life of love and friendship in the local neighborhood of La Condesa in México City.

The tenacity of this series relied upon how its ordinariness transcended assumed stereotypes about the lives and behavior of Mexican people in México City. This sensibility would be readily apparent to anyone in the world, if they spent a few days walking around the streets and narrow passageways of La Condesa in how it comes to life in a spectacular fashion in the night in strolling down such streets as Avenida Amsterdam and Juan Escutia. The series Soy tu Fan through Morrison’s music provides an understanding that is true to real life, rather than the bubbled cocoon of hotel beach vacations in Cancún which are far removed from the experience of life in México itself.

Carla Morrison © Esteban Calderón
Carla Morrison © Esteban Calderón

At the same time, Carla Morrison throughout her career has always pitched her music as global,

in that it is not entwined within a particular racial and ethnic trajectory, and that is revealing in its own right in transcending these exact distinctions. Perhaps in the same way, Carla Morrison’s relocation to Paris begs one to consider the novelist and writer James Baldwin and his exilic move from the U.S. to Paris in that same breath.

Both Baldwin and Morrison are perceiving their experiences from a distance, and are representing their visions from the outside in surveying the human experience through their literature and music. Baldwin critiqued racial and gender disparities and tensions in the U.S. with staggering insight from afar, as Morrison delicately and profoundly contemplates emotional life from a transnational and universal perspective in El Renacimiento.

Carla Morrison © Esteban Calderón
Carla Morrison © Esteban Calderón

Her vision of this album was also created in Paris, in reverberating through her origins from México to the U.S. and beyond. There is something to be said about cultural production from a distance in how that enfranchises global awareness of the human experience, and in this sense Carla Morrison is speaking very deeply to all of us.

This is an LP of beauty and wonder that suits the warm summer nights as we drift from café to bar and dream of other worlds that exist beyond borders, and how we can incorporate this sense into our own lives through Carla Morrison’s music in this moving album.

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El Renacimiento - Carla Morrison

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