Band of the Day

2011.09.26

Gaby Moreno

Sultry, timeless tunes that fuse vintage jazz with a Latin flair
Roaming like two moons up in the sky, we're getting by just fine.
lyrics from Daydream By Design

Originally from Guatemala City, Guatemala, Gaby Moreno (b. December 16, 1981) is an award winning singer, songwriter and guitarist now living in Los Angeles, California. In her early years Gaby learned to speak English singing along with American greats like Robert Johnson and Nina Simone. Her mother bought her a guitar for her 14th birthday and she immediately began playing. Her song “Escondidos” launched her musical career after it won the 2006 John Lennon Songwriting Contest. Her music found its way onto the TV shows, “Lincoln Heights”, “The Ghost Whisperer”, MTV’s “The Hills” and ABC’s “Off the Map”. She also co-wrote the theme song to NBC’s “Parks and Recreation." She sang the song, “Smile” by Charlie Chaplin for the Academy Award winning documentary, “The Cove” in 2009. By August of that same year, Moreno toured with mega folk stars Tracy Chapman and Ani DiFranco. She released both A Good Old Christmastime (2010) and Illustrated Songs (2011) independently.

Imagine walking through a narrow, cobblestone street and stumbling across a small cafe. The smell of freshly ground coffee beans lingers in the air, and you manage to snag the squishiest armchair right by a crackling fire. As the sound of Gaby Moreno’s buttery voice wraps around you, the scene is made complete. Suddenly it could be 1920s Paris, or 2011 in Brooklyn. Fusing vintage jazz with a Latin influence, Moreno makes the kind of songs that you can instantly fall in love with from the first note - that will have you immediately pressing 'repeat' at the end. And her album Illustrated Songs is filled with just that. “Intento,” the album's first track, sets the mood for the rest of the night (or at least 12 songs and 40 minutes of the night). It's like pulling out the fine china, dimming the lights, lighting ancient waxy candles, and getting lost in a glass of red wine, while Moreno's sultry voice sings in her native Spanish. “Y Tu Sombra” is equally as romantic—the type of song you'd want to listen to while falling in love under the stars of some balmy, Latin country. “Mean Old Circus” is the first song on the album where this native Guatemalan demonstrates her ability to sing as effortlessly in English as she does in Spanish. “We'll dance across a silver thread, put the sky to bed,” she sings in a tone that's both sassy and ambiguous. Fusing both English and Spanish in one song, the bossa nova-flavored “No Regrets” will have you imagining lying on a hammock in a tropical getaway, watching the sky change from shades of burning oranges and yellows to purples and blues as it slowly descends. But whether she's singing in English or in Spanish, Moreno rises above the pack with songs like “Daydream By Design” that have an instant sense of satisfaction—like a classic you've known forever, but are hearing again after it's been hidden in your grandmother's attic for the past seventy years. It's evident that she draws influences from some of history's greatest vocalists (ranging from Edith Piaf to Ella Fitzgerald)—strong songstresses known for their smokey, elegant, and inviting vocals. With this, she puts her own unique spin by incorporating early jazz, bossa nova, and Latin instrumentation. Even if some of the Spanish lyrics can't be understood, her smooth voice serves as a conduit for feelings that don't need words.