Jorge Gonzales Los Prisioneros, are the biggest Chilean of time . So this new project Leonino by their singer Jorge Gonzales deserved to be noticed. Despite his background this album is not "world music" by any means the opening track "I Think We Should Be Friends" might catch you by surprise if you are not familiar with his work as it sounds like many of the new wave artists who adapted to change with the times, once their 80's hey days faded, Joe Jackson being the first of these that comes to mind . He morphs slightly from song to song going for a more soulful approach on "Don't Change Your Mind." Sometimes he opts for a minimal approach, than at other he employs an odd array of organic instruments like harmonica in his work.
At his more upbeat moments "My Time is Gonna Come" he touches a surreal contemplative pop tapestry not unlike "Sign O the Times" era Prince, though he never takes the kinda of dark skepticism of the human condition that the Purple one did. Perhaps the fact English is not his first language hinders the depth of lyrical content, but he sings it with enough conviction to make up for this fact. From a production stand point it's what you would expect from some one who has sold over 2 million albums. The vocal layering is pretty close to perfect . As far a pop singers go his pipes get the job done. Jorge never over does it with melodramatic trills. The albums other strong point is Jorge's ability to switch gears and do the unexpected, once you think you have him figured out he throws pretty country elements.
Aside from Prince another surprising influence I detected is John Lennon, as "Not a Sound" has an in electronic back drop, as if Lennon was trying his hand at Kraut rock. He gets by with a little help from his friends, with Marino Scopel lending vocals and Argenis Brito lends his talents to another t track as well. The first hint of Latin flavors simmer up on the ballad "It Wasn't Mean to Me". His influences converge as it sounds a jam session with Prince sitting in with the Plastic Ono band. The other Lennon element is how he gives the songs room to breath like John's post-Beatles work. The Latin swing returns on "Down By the River" though the lyrics feel like they are lifted from any one of a hundred 90's slow jams.Where he really grabs my attention is on "There is a Light" that closes out the album. His vocals capture the album's title "Naked Tunes" as the song strips it down to just the layers of his voice bared in beautiful harmony. This is not unlike something Imogen Heap might have pulled off in her earlier work.
Something here is working for Jorge if he consistently brings to mind greats like Prince and Lennon. He possess a similar ear to those two when it comes to arrangements and how to place the sounds on this record. Prince is a perfectionist so that might tell you how good this album sounds. After three decades of work , the experience paid off on this album. This is fun quirky pop for those who ,so if appreciate the likes of Joe Jackson, Elvis Costello or Bryan Ferry's solo work, you can't say he really sounds like any of them ,but his music comes from a similar place and worth checking out.