Luis Mojica “Songs from the Land”
Storytelling has always been a crucial part in music, in a way that I think is under-sold now. Conveying themes and motifs I think sonically is very easy and even surface level lines can obviously transmit ideas, but actively telling a sprawling narrative is a different story. Folk Music I don’t think has gotten much affinity lately, possibly because it seems cut from a bygone era. The days of counterculture and the exploration of intimacy in music used to be a genuine novelty before it became mainstream.
That brings us to the work of Luis Mojica and his newest album “Songs from the Land”. The most efficient way to describe listening to this record, was like finding a dusty old novel and being taken aback by its soul when you dive into it. With the amount of callbacks and a heavy emphasis on descriptions of landscapes you could almost accuse the record as being a concept album about a world weary traveler in search for new enlightenment. Opener northbound sets the stage accordingly with its gentle tones that feel like the start of a journey, complete with subtle clip clopping like that of a noble steed. There’s a present intimate tone to the record that’s cut well with how broad the sonic scope can be.
Many times while Mojica’s voice ranges for a more subdued and high pitch delivery, it’s boosted by the orchestral arrangement in addition to the steady and grounded acoustic guitar, but also towards the end by literal orchestral elements like choir, strings and flute. It is genuinely a gorgeous album in the purest sense, and while I could see some as writing it off as “pretentious”, that’s a disservice to the craft and legitimacy that Mojica imbues his music and subjects with. It’s an album that despite having a softer demeanor, holds a lot of cynical and dark undertones. Track “Colonized” in particular is a dating indictment against modernity and the shackles of mundane existence. Thanks to the chanting and moaning on the song as well, it builds upon the spiritual nature that remains steady through it all. “Strange Disease” is another great subversive look at ideas we know, with the notion of love or lust seemingly being the disease in question, only to have the rug pulled underneath you with the reveal that love is saving the narrator from the disease.
The usage of ambiguity and dual meanings is not lost and it’s something that makes you want to revisit the album repeatedly. Each track is pretty breezy and while it never goes full bombastic with any of its climaxes, it makes up for it with expert layering and a fantastic sense of pacing. Closer “Black Bear” is possibly the track with the most worth discussing with friends as it’s only a minute and serves as an epilogue of sorts to the journey with a message so vague and yet loaded it’ll be fun to unpack for years to come. “Songs from a Strange Land” is an instant hit.