ALBUM: Agüita by Gabriel Garzón-Montano
RELEASE YEAR: 2020
LABEL: Jagjaguwar Records
BEST TRACKS: “With A Smile”, “Muñeca”, “Fields”, “Someone”, “Bloom”
A glance at Gabriel Garzón-Montano’s biography may shed light on why his style is so eclectic: growing up in Brooklyn as the child of French and Colombian immigrants, he was exposed to a variety of different tastes. Nowhere is his multifaceted identity more apparent than on his latest project, Agüita.
To someone not listening closely, Agüita may sound like a compilation album – that is, the aesthetics found in GGM’s latest effort are so distinct that one may think they are a product of multiple artists. Specifically, there are three characters sharing the spotlight: the “wistful impressionist” who is fascinated by sonic textures and classical voice leading, the “leading man” who seduces us with R&B and neo-soul performances, and the “Latinx hitmaker” who exudes swagger with a reggaeton flair.
In the course of 42 minutes, these three have a lot to say. The first track, “Tombs”, finds our wistful impressionist musing about the comfort we find in failing relationships. “Fields”, with its beautiful string arrangements and otherworldly vocal harmonies, is perhaps the instrumental highlight of the album. “Muñeca”, “Mira My Look”, and “Agüita” establish our Latinx hitmaker as an artist capable of going toe to toe with the baddest of bunnies, and “Bloom”, which features only an acoustic guitar and string embellishments, reminds us that GGM is no stranger to balladry. “Someone” finds the debonair leading man in top form as he croons about an old flame.
The combination of these personalities are a testament to GGM’s refusal to be put in a neat little box, where fans and critics alike can categorize him. Ironically, he has been called “anti-genre” since his debut in 2014. Instead of shying away from this label, he has fully embraced it on Agüita. As a result, Gabriel Garzón-Montano is truly in a lane of his own.
– DJ Mango