Review for Sara Ontaneda's album 'Entre Espacios y Colores'

Ecuadorian-American singer Sara Ontaneda is a unique artist who blends folk, R&B and South-American tunes into an infused genre-bending sound.  Currently residing in New York City, Ontaneda discovered that she harnessed a love for music at a young age.  She started piano lessons at age 7 and by age 9, she had joined her school’s choir in Miami, Florida.  She moved to Guayaquil, Ecuador ,at age 13 and began seriously studying classical music in the conservatories in Guayquil, while also maintaining her love for mainstream music by joining jazz and bossa nova bands.

Ontaneda continued her musical education by studying at Berklee College of Music, where she majored in Contemporary Writing and Production.  Meanwhile, Ontaneda graduated with honors and was awarded with scholarships for her efforts.

On Ontaneda’s debut full-length album endeavor, entitled Entre Espacios y Colores, the record is a reflection of Ontaneda’s diverse world-view that spans from New York City to Ecuador.  It is a multi-fold study between the fluid forays of South American music and an introduction of jazzy and folk fusions with an indie rock/pop twist.

The first track, “Chico Bien,” is a snappy track filled with jazzy flavors.  It has an invigorating sound, filled with light-hearted, bright and colorful tones.  Ontaneda’s crystalline singing and clear vocal abilities encases this rich sound that soars with a mellow quality that gets heavy backing by the keyboards.

“Aprovechar” is equally delightful as the previous track though with a darker ambiance.  The ominous sound carries through with a more pressing and urgent undertone.  The soaring harmonies and seamless blend of instrumentals pave the way for a relax feel to the song.  This charming ballad with its mixture of indie pop/rock and Latin fusion resounds with layers of trumpets that harken the end of the track.

“My City” starts off with the mellow singer-songwriter’s soothing vocals adding a calm quality to the R&B track.  Steady rhythms coming from the beat of the drums in the background keeps time to the tenacious song.  Filled with a hazy sound, the strong backbeat interlaced with the sounds of the violin adds a fray of delicacy to the sound.  The sense of fragile sensibility and the undertones of frailty, which deliberately highlights the fluty vocals is accompanied by the steady strumming from the guitar.

“A Pensar” is a synth-filled track, filtered with the effect of reverb.  There is a lulling sort of outcome as Ontaneda leads you through this fleeting song.  Lasting only 3:16 min., the track strolls along the alternative route through jazzy and folk territories.  The backbone has to be the singer’s vocal abilities, though carrying, really adds to the sparse nature of these tracks, giving them a momentous embellishment.

On “Darling”, the song has a winding Contemporary Radio feel to it as Ontaneda sings with a pop lilt similar to such tastemakers like Sara Bareilles.

The album slows down in the song “Huecos” for a more ballad-y feel.  As Ontaneda unwinds by plucking on the strings on her guitar over this slow number, the slight, dramatic curve of the track makes for a catalytic effect to the song as towards the end, the ebb and flow of the track will make listeners bob their heads along with this mellow vibe.

Ontaneda really showcases her feel for authenticity by infusing her diversified background into these intently jazzy melodious furnished tracks.  Toward “Waiting Outside” we see a quirky beat manifest into a retro Motown vibe with an intricate balance between drums, keys, bass, and violin.  The bright, positive energy carries through in such tracks like “Park Drive” and “Guiame”, whose blend of synths and keys prove to be an enjoyable listening experience.

The charming universe that Sara Ontaneda shares with us in Entre Espacios y Colores is an ascent into Ontaneda’s first EP Marte y Jupiter, which received critical acclaim from news outlets from Latin America and Spain.  The success from the EP led Ontaneda to embark on her “Marte y Jupiter EP Tour” in Ecuador, where she performed in Pinas, Cueca, Quito and Guayaquil.

The fused layers of Sara Ontaneda’s debut full-length album is a generous foray into a multi-genre sound.  Entre Espacios y Colores is a bilingual album with tracks in English and others in Spanish, symbolic of Ontaneda’s multi-cultural life in New York City.  Timeless and rendered through patient casting, this makes Sara Ontaneda an ever-lasting artist.

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My Nguyen

My Nguyen is an album reviewer from San Diego, CA. She regularly contributes to Her work has appeared in the following journals: Quietpoly, Community Voices, Espresso 1, The Whistling Fire, The Pedestal Magazine, The Straylight Magazine, Baby Lawn Literature, and Conceit Magazine.

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