Personnel: Sam Cohen (guitar, keyboards); Zeke Zima (guitar); Adriana Molello, Yuiko Kamakari (violin); Daniel Bensi (cello, background vocals); James Richardson (trumpet, French horn); Joah Kaufman (piano); Brian Kantor (drums, percussion); Will Berman, Jochen Ruechert (drums).
Audio Mixer: Jorge Elbrecht.
Recording information: Gary's Electric, Brooklyn, NY; Homeward Sound, Brooklyn, NY; Static Recording.
Photographer: Alejandro Cardenas.
Singer/songwriter Diego Garcia spent time fronting the New York City-based alt-rock band Elefant before going solo with his 2011 debut, Laura. Inspired by his wife, that album showcased Garcia's romantic, melodic, '60s folk-pop-influenced sound that brings to mind such touchstones as Donovan, Serge Gainsbourg, and Nick Drake. Garcia's similarly inclined sophomore album, 2013's Paradise, is an equally romantic and melodically generous collection of songs. It would be too easy to say that, if Laura was all about Garcia's journey to win back and ultimately marry the love of his life, then Paradise is the sweet afterglow of their life together; there is a lightness and breeziness about Paradise that seems to speak to his contented, romantic bliss. On the opening track, the jubilant "Start with the End," Garcia sings, "Beginning again/A new life on the rise/Let's make it a point to remember/To live the joy in our lives." Similarly, cuts like the buoyant "She Dances" and "Sunnier Days" are thrilling, goosebump-inducing odes to fidelity and attraction. While one wouldn't strictly characterize Garcia's music as Latin pop, he definitely incorporates enough melodic and rhythmic elements from flamenco and tango on Paradise (even singing in Spanish on "Donde Estas") to put him well within the grand tradition of such Latin troubadours as José Feliciano, Piero, and Sandro. And while Garcia has settled comfortably into a warm, analog-sounding production style that harkens back to the studio sounds of the '60s and '70s, Paradise proves that his albums are never museum pieces. Striking such a beautiful balance between his old-fashioned and contemporary influences, the record brims with both honesty and style -- a charming and rare combination. ~ Matt Collar