REVIEW: Luis Mojica — Songs from the Land (LP)
Luis Mojica’s Songs from the Land is the third album released by the New York State based musician, business owner, and songwriter. If you have a cynical nature, skeptical of alternative points of view, his songs may sound lightweight and coy. It is a superficial point of view. Careful attention paid to this release reveals an album with genuine poetic depth instead of glossing over the songs with dozens of empty gestures. Mojica’s gifts outstrip the term indie genre; he has well-rounded skills that stand out in any stratum of the music world, mainstream, indie, defying genre.
The music is understated. It is as true during the first song as it is the tenth track. Mojica’s songwriting, however, achieves impressive diversity despite consistently utilizing a few elements. “Northbound”, the opener, provides our first example of that. It has a more cumulative approach than later songs but hinges, first and foremost, on melodic acoustic guitar. It is an abiding virtue of the collection. His vocals have an ethereal reach without ever sounding overcooked.
I am even more impressed by “Colonized”. I believe it may be a little too literal in its writing but there’s no arguing it increases the work’s accessibility. The moments when Mojica is, arguably, a little too obvious are few and, when they arrive, never fatal to the individual song. The instrumentation is stunning at every turn. Its guitar playing gives Mojica and his listeners one of the album’s most memorable moments. It has a foreboding tenor present in only a handful of Songs from the Land’s tracks.
“Mountains” has the album’s best vocal arrangement, but it isn’t until the song’s second half before you get to appreciate it in full. There is an unquestionable folk influence present in Mojica’s music, but it does him a disservice to label these songs. “Mountains” goes places cookie cutter folk tunes do not travel and deserves consideration as one of the finest moments on Songs from the Land. The middle of the release peaks with “Strange Disease”. It features one of the album’s most potent melodies, based again around guitar and the complimentary accompaniment strengthens its impact. It is clear, to me, that this is the album’s best lyric.
His commitment to keeping an even balance between musical and lyrical importance sets him apart from peers and contemporaries. “Pine Child” illustrates this well. It definitely has an audible “folk song” vibe without ever sounding sadly predictable and I am taken with its tempo. The arrangement maintains a sense of urgency without ever rushing the song’s development and its secondary embellishments accentuate its mood. The finale “Black Bear” is a hushed and nearly reverential track that accomplishes as much in one minute five seconds as others do in four to five minutes. It’s a somewhat surprising closer, I expected a lengthier final statement, but it closes the album’s circle in a substantive way that has a little added flourish. Mojica’s Songs from the Land will satisfy anyone who appreciates poetry set to music.