Audio Mixer: Andrija Tokic.
Recording information: 09/2014.
This collaboration between American indie folk anomaly Josephine Foster, her husband, Spanish guitarist Victor Herrero, and Victor's brother José Luis made its first appearance on an obscure Swiss compilation called Your Victorian Breasts back in 2013. With additional help from Spanish folksinger Lorena Alvarez and Japanese woodwind player Taku, the group, billed as Mendrugo, offered a curiously rough field recording of a winsome Spanish-language tune called "Estrella Fugaz" that seems to have been captured inside a noisy cafe. Though quaint and charming, it gave the impression of something ephemeral: a casual one-off from a group of friends who had happened to land in the same time and place for a moment. Sure enough, little else was heard from Mendrugo over the next few years as the various parties continued to focus on their primary projects. In the summer of 2016, however, U.K. indie Fire Records announced the release of More Amor, a full-length debut from the erstwhile folk troupe. Similar to their debut track -- which appears again here in a slightly more structured form -- the LP feels casual, loose, and buoyant, with a distinctly vintage lo-fi production aesthetic that still resembles a field recording. The vocals are largely shared between the Herreros and Foster, whose idiosyncratic warbles somehow come across as less affected when delivered in Spanish. The guitars are delicately plucked or jauntily strummed in the manner of Spanish and other Latin-flavored folk traditions and the group harmonies are rich and spirited, with occasional whoops and celebratory calls. There is little of Foster's early American folk and jazz style here and More Amor, for all of its eccentricities, feels more like some unearthed world music relic than the work of 21st century indie folk heroes. Whether this is simply a one-off project or the beginning of an ongoing venture, Mendrugo's debut is a bright and charming curiosity. ~ Timothy Monger