Tuesday, July 31st, 2018

Amara La Negra – Insecure

Less of a jam jam than “Bam Bam” but something we still enjoy enjoy…


Vikram Joseph: There might not be a lot to “Insecure” (its exploration of insecurity certainly doesn’t withstand much scrutiny), but as window dressing goes, this sort of gently simmering Latin pop is fairly appealing. Amara La Negra strays alarmingly close to pastiche at times, but, conversely, the verdant spray of flamenco guitar towards the end is probably the best thing about this.

Jonathan Bogart: If this was sung in Portuguese, it would be kizomba; if it was in French, it would be zouk. But English with a sprinkling of Spanish makes it just R&B with an odd shuffle in the rhythm and some “Latin” guitar.

Anjy Ou: The instruments bounce off the walls of the production, so it sounds more like Amara La Negra is singing to a room stripped bare of the trappings of a relationship, as opposed to one occupied by her lover. She explains her dilemma simply, with pop culture metaphors easy to grasp, as if speaking too plainly would hurt too much. (“Hold your cell phone tighter than me” is a sucker punch.) What drags the song down is its lacklustre chorus — it feels more like the performance of hurt than the experience of it.

Dorian Sinclair: Without delving too far into my own sordid romantic history, “At night when you’re falling asleep/Hold your cellphone tighter than me” is a very real couplet, one that captures a moment in a relationship that I’m not sure I’ve seen previously expressed so vividly and succinctly. Part of what makes it land so well, though, is the overall wistfulness that suffuses the production, from the distant fuzz at the beginning to the picked guitar at the close. Most of all, though, it’s present in Amara’s vocal, which provides the quiet resignation needed to really drive the song home.

Stephen Eisermann: A tad underproduced and slightly generic, but Amara really shines here. Her voice fills all the holes left behind by the lack of production, and her natural phrasing works flawlessly as she transitions between English and the Spanish words littered throughout. “Insecure” shows that her voice can pierce anything, and that’s quite a gift to have.

Iain Mew: There’s enough going on in the wordplay and language-switching that the first impression is of how smooth and controlled and playful she is. That lets the sadness really seep in and take hold over time too.

Alfred Soto: “Hold your cellphone tighter than me” is an insight for our times, and Amara ravishes it with a measured, throaty attention. Catty and coy, exposed yet defiant, she’s a pleasure to listen to.

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