From soulful turns to ‘Parks and Rec’ theme, Gaby Moreno is Passim songstress with range
Multilingual singer-songwriter Gaby Moreno brings her spirited blend of urban folk and Latin soul-pop to Club Passim on Thursday. Born in Guatemala, the current Los Angelena has been making a name for herself in numerous musical circles and building a solid repertoire over the past decade. Since scoring Song of the Year in the 2006 John Lennon Songwriting Contest, Moreno has released five albums, most recently 2016’s Grammy-nominated “Ilusión,” as well as writing the theme music for NBC-TV program “Parks and Recreation.”
She has also toured with legends Tracy Chapman and Ani DiFranco and shared the stage with stars including Bono and Andrea Bocelli. (Somewhere else she might be spotted: Moreno, a vegan and animal rights supporter, has also appeared in a PETA commercial with her pet Chihuahua, encouraging adoption of animals from shelters.)
Songs such as “O, Me” – with an accompanying video that is brilliant visually and conceptually – speak powerfully to a contemporary audience. While not groundbreakingly original, “O, Me” has an organic feel, building to a climax you don’t even notice until it fades.
“Estaré” is more bare and urban, showing Moreno’s vulnerable side. Sung in Spanish, the song speaks directly across linguistic and cultural barriers, timeless but timely: a powerful woman’s voice expressing the Latinx experience that is so indelibly American, accentuated by bluesy, soulful keys that contrast with Moreno’s smooth voice.
“Se Apagó” is a funkier number, reminiscent of Otis Redding or Etta James. The lush horn lines build on a solid rhythm, which is basically what this song has going for it. Although many have tried, few can achieve Otis’ passion, and the tune gets repetitive quickly, going on a bit too long. It would work at a dance club, perhaps, but might not be the best choice for her set at Passim.
Gaby Moreno performs an 8 p.m. show (doors at 7 p.m.) Thursday at Club Passim, 47 Palmer St., Harvard Square. General admission is $25.