Gaby Moreno is getting into the holiday spirit… en español…
The 32-year-old Guatemalan singer-songwriter and guitarist has released a Christmas album that’s being heralded as an insta-Latin holiday classic.
Moreno’s Posada, released in the U.S. on indie label Cosmica, blends the singer’s love of gospel, soul and piano jazz with acoustic sounds from her Central American roots to revive a set of traditional holiday songs.
Moreno performs standard Spanish-language hymns with passion, delivering a beautiful rendition of “El Niño del Tambor” and bringing a little naughty to “Peces en el Rio” in a revved-up cabaret version of the children’s Christmas classic.
On an album that includes English and German-language lyrics, the singer seduces with a retro “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” set to brushed drums. Moreno and her band add some honky tonk to “Go Tell It on the Mountain.”
A video for Moreno’s spare and emotive “Primer Noel,” premiering on Billboard.com, features the artist reliving childhood holiday memories.
Unlike the album, which is notable for Moreno’s decidedly non-secular approach to holiday music, the video brings some typical Christmas commercialism to her message with a bottle of Pepsi placed prominently on her piano. Moreno recently appeared at a Pepsi holiday concert and in a commercial for the beverage’s holiday campaign in Guatemala.
Moreno has a strong bilingual following in her adopted home city of Los Angeles, and she’s most widely known to Spanish-speakers for her 2011 duet with Ricardo Arjona, “Fuiste Tu.” That track has neared 165 million views on YouTube, and it rose to #1 on Billboard’s Latin Pop Airplay and Tropical Airplay charts.
Moreno parlayed that connection into a well-received Latin American tour for her 2012 album Postales, released on Arjona’s label Metamorfosis, which also produced her Christmas record.
Despite being named Best New Artist at the 2013 Latin Grammys, the singer still remains underappreciated in the U.S. Latin market. Postales sold 3,000 copies in the U.S., according to Nielsen Soundscan.