Some people prefer music that’s the sonic equivalent of comfort food — safe, familiar, easy to swallow. Others have a more adventurous palate. The latter group will want to sink their teeth into Lido Pimienta’s Miss Colombia. And they will come away both satisfied and hungry for more. The Toronto singer-songwriter’s third album and the followup to her acclaimed 2016 release La Papessa, this daring and dynamic creation presents a fantastic, innovative and stirring fusion of ambition and artistry, novelty and nostalgia, timely and traditional. Over her signature fusion of cumbia, electronica and classical — which she has descriptively dubbed industrial reggaetón — the candid Pimienta tackles everything from injustice in her Colombian homeland to her own loves, losses and personal traumas. Of course, unless you are fluent in Spanish, you’ll need to check out some lyrical translations to truly appreciate and understand all of that. And while you should make the effort, you don’t necessarily have to. You can get almost as much pleasure out of the disc just from immersing yourself in the futuristic and unique sounds that dominate the disc’s first half, or by soaking up the transfixing traditional grooves and percussion that dot its second part. But however well you get to know her, you’ll come away quite understandably and rightly convinced that Miss Colombia is unmistakably a winner.
THE PRESS RELEASE: “Lido Pimienta has announced the release of Miss Colombia, the anticipated follow-up to La Papessa, which was awarded the Polaris Music Prize in 2017. The Colombian-born, Toronto-based global beats trailblazer recorded the album in her home studio, with some additional recording done in the historic Colombian town of San Basilio de Palenque. Miss Colombia boasts 11 new and original songs that boldly celebrate Lido’s ecstatic musical hybridity of electronic meets cumbia, and is at once defiant and delicate, exploratory and confrontational. All of the songs were written and arranged by Lido, and she co-produced the album with Matt Smith aka Prince Nifty. The album title was partly inspired by the Miss Universe gaffe in 2015, when Steve Harvey mistakenly awarded the crown to Miss Colombia instead of Miss Philippines. It caused Lido to reflect on the anti-blackness she’s experienced, and how she was viewed as an outsider in adolescence, a “weird artistic tomboy” for not adhering to the expected norms projected upon her. Lido — an Afro-Indigenous, queer feminist — created Miss Colombia as a canvas for introspection, with pieces about love (and self-love), and loss. Other songs confront divisive politics in Colombia, Indigenous inequality and racism, and ultimately to bring her closer to home. Musically it digs deeply into the history of Afro-Latin musics, from Palenque to cumbia, styles that Lido embraced after being introduced to Sexteto Tabala, one of the most representative musical expressions of the African communities in Colombia (who are also featured on the album). The album also features Bomba Estereo’s Li Saumet. Lido has an affinity for acts like A Tribe Called Red and Inuk throat singer Tanya Tagaq, but her work also resonates with British-Sri Lankan rapper MIA and she draws unabashed inspiration from the New York-bred Dominican-Trinidadian rap queen Cardi B.”