A sonic hug; there is something so palpable, so universally accessible about listening to our dear buddy, the radio. Cast your mind to a tiny, sweltering cafe, in a distant land, where the locals' language resembles beautiful incomprehensible song, the comfort and familiarity tasted are second to none. Uruguayan singer-songwriter Juan Wauters salutes this and, along with honing in on the ingredients in any situation, captures noise from his travels to create art, encased in his new album Real Life Situations, unwrapped on April 30th.
And with a little help from his friends, Wauters shifts from his singular expression to collaborate until his heart's content, including visits from Homeshake, Cola Boyy, El David Aguilar, and more, digging deeper with hip hop, low fi, R&B, and deft indie-folk. Take Real with Mac Demarco, a touchingly weird song of brothers from two laid back souls who want everyone to try and get along, or at least leave people to face the present moment: "It took some time to see my way, not talking about tomorrow, talking about today."
A pensive start from Juan's instinctive guitar underscores the tones of the partnership until things become brighter. Piano tugs at the heartstrings further until it transcends into a hand clapped close section elevating the song entirely, forgetting where we began. The material marries à la mode to traditional throughout: Presentation, featuring Nick Hamin and Benamin, equals Voidz meets N.E.R.D. with memorable tunage and the funkiest of bass encountered in many tracks, while Acordes, working with Tall Juan, fans a salsa vibe in their native tongue.
The air of the LP is that of friends hanging out on brownstone steps, chatting away, bringing back the connectivity we have recently lacked and island hops gathering material along the way. Enduring the dreaded pandemic put well-laid plans for Europe and South America on hold, so it would be his home base of New York that manifested material. Over the course of 21 tracks, music is spliced with snippets of phone notes and TV and YouTube clips against the hubbub of city surroundings and conversations.
Serving as a transcription of his year, Headspace 2020 is the opening gambit in different dialects and Juan reacting to the words with his beloved strings. It is not wholly positive, but honest, frank and honest: "But that's hope, that's not optimism. I'm not optimistic at all. In fact, I have little respect for naive optimism," a gentleman declares. In the 13 seconds of Bailando- dancing- the typewriter is the instrument, and in Sentiemento Queens, the wind.
That said, it is not just about the doom and gloom of lockdown. Locura recalls the glow of being at a concert packed full of people through chirpy melody, quick-fire rap and even a scent of Blur crossed with the musical Hair. We must heal like this: acknowledging what happened, evaluating what we learnt and moving on; we can not control everything. This gorgeous art from Wauters will stand the test of time as an honest snapshot of existence.
Article by Beverley Knight