People love things that are cute. That’s an obvious statement; yes, which is why YouTube is filled with enough home videos of puppies and kittens to keep the masses entertained for years, or at least until a different ‘cute fad’ takes its place.
Ximena Sariñana (pronounced: hi-MEN-a sari-nyanah), one of Mexico’s most talented exports, is freakin’ adorable. Like, surprised kitty status adorable. This weekend, in the House of Blues Cambridge Room, Sariñana took the stage to massive applause, consulted her black Macbook, and opened her set with “The Bid,” off her latest album.
A crossover artist, Sariñana has a massive following in her home country. Her 2008 album, Mediocre, was praised by Rolling Stone as “one of the strongest debuts from a female singer-songwriter since Norah Jones’ Come Away With Me.”
Presently, Sariñana is taking on a new challenge for herself: bringing her music to the States with her first (90%) English self-titled album, released this July on Warner Bros Records.
Relentlessly watchable, Sariñana brings the colloquialism “smiling with her eyes” to life. During the song “Shine Down,” co-written by TV On the Radio’s David Sitek, she energetically bounced up and down between verses, politely gleaming at her band.
“Hola, como estan?” Sariñana asked coyly, smiling to the audience, her long, curly brown hair pulled into a side ponytail resting on her shoulder.
"I just released my second record, which is my first record all in English," Sariñana began, introducing her latest single, “Different,” a cheery, piano-driven alt-pop song with a sunny whistling melody that appears in all the right places. “Gracias por entender,” she said, later thanking the audience in two languages, leading into the notion that the night’s set would be akin to a Spanish (or English) lesson.
"So, back to the old songs,” the 26-year-old said, drawing a loud cheer from the audience, clearly familiar with her early work. “Cheers. Hope you like it.” At the end of the Spanish song “Normal,” Sariñana punctuated the ballad with smile so genuine even those attached to the bar in the rear of the venue smiled back.
A bubbly demeanor about her, Sariñana was happy to converse with the audience, always explaining the meaning behind her songs before singing them. "I don't usually play this song very much," she said, referring to song, “Reforma,” calling it the only positive love song on the first record.
"Are you guys ready to move a little bit more?" she asked, telling the audience the story of recording her album in Echo Park, California.
“Hipsterland?” someone in the audience jokingly called out, making the singer erupt into what can only be described as a happy giggle. Sariñana referred to Echo Park as “full of hot guys,” and recommended the area for the ladies in the audience. She wrote song, cleverly titled “Echo Park,” for the boys in the area, specifically the "guys that play the guitar."
"This is the first song that I ever wrote," Sariñana introduced song, “Las huellas” featured in the movie soundtrack Amarte Duele. Pretty damn sexy for a then-neophyte songwriter.
“Thank you, thank you so much Dallas. You've been the best audience so far,"* was her sign off to her attentive audience before closing her set with the beautiful balladry of “Mediocre.” “Hope to see you soon again Dallas. Next year, I promise.”
Now Hear This: “Las huellas” It is nowhere to be found on iTunes, so I present to you this YouTube clip. The video is pretty awkward, so just minimize the window and turn the volume up.
Author’s note, Part I: if you're wanting to learn Spanish, I highly recommend listening to Sariñana’s albums. Her pronunciation and diction is very clear and easy to understand. Si?
Author’s note, Part II: *Makes you wonder if they say that to every city, doesn’t it?
Author’s note, Part III: I need to go to Echo Park.
Photography by Junior Hernandez
For More on Ximena, view the Artist Interview Sessions Video