About this Artist
The sweeping, cinematic new album by acclaimed singer/songwriter Jorge Drexler, Tinta y Tiempo focuses on nature’s invention of love as a survival mechanism. Strangely enough, such a life affirming concept almost didn’t see the light of day. For a long while it seemed destined for shipwreck – one of the many projects that succumbed under the weight of the pandemic, lost in oblivion.
“This one and my debut have been the most challenging albums of my career,” admits the soft-spoken Drexler from his working space in Madrid. “For the longest time, I was convinced it would remain unfinished.”
The pandemic, with its abundance of truncated meetings and emotional disconnection, forced him to examine his own songwriting process under a new light.
“I always thought concerts were communal and songwriting a solitary affair,” he explains. “I hadn’t realized that, in pre-pandemic times, I was constantly meeting with friends. At the local bars or over lunch with friends on Sundays, someone would invariably pull up a guitar and I would preview my songs for them. In the act of sharing, you try to adjust and round the songs up. Before, I was able to showcase new tunes during sound check, in the tour bus on the way to a gig, waiting with fellow musicians at the airport terminal. During this new reality, I ended up having a bunch of songs that were 80% there, but missing the remaining 20. I fell in love with them after the first burst of inspiration, then fell out of love when it came time to revisit them.”
Two years went by. Still unsure of his repertoire, Drexler persevered until the quarantine began to ease off.
“A couple of months before we finished recording, the world opened up again,” he enthuses. “I was able to share the new tracks, work with my trusted group of friends. It took a lot of effort, but at the end of the day I brought home with me a number of finished songs and realized that I was proud of them. They definitely deserve to see the light of day.”
As it turns out, Tinta y Tiempo may very well be the most gorgeous and fully realized album that Drexler has ever recorded – and that’s saying a lot.
Anchored on his trademark poetic cosmovision and quirky wordplay, the collection is boosted by exquisite orchestral arrangements on most songs. Guest artists Ruben Blades, C. Tangana, Noga Erez and Martín Buscaglia add color to a sophisticated songbook that finds Drexler’s voice – a wondrous instrument, capable of evoking vulnerability, hope and wistfulness within a single verse - in a state of grace.
The airy, soulful opening track “El Plan Maestro” stems from a fascinating Whatsapp exchange that Drexler shared with his cousin, Venezuela-based physicist and conservationist Alejandra Melfo. Melfo had co-written a track on the singer’s last album – 2017’s Salvavidas de Hielo – and her ideas provide a unifying link between both releases.
“I was riding a train and we started talking about the invention of love as a survival tool based on natural selection,” Drexler recalls. “It was the thematic vector that informs the entire record, the kind of discourse that comes up when you emerge from a pandemic. Dealing with fear and the possibility of death makes you ponder the importance of life. Love as driving energy, life’s dynamo. This is why I believe the album is filled with color.”
Lead single “Tocarte” finds Drexler collaborating with the enfant terrible of contemporary Spanish music. Rapper and songwriter C. Tangana contributes his cutting-edge production skills and playful sensibility to a song whose fragmented beat brings Drexler closer to hit-single territory. Drexler had contributed vocals to the funky “Nominao,” off Tangana’s 2021 masterpiece El Madrileño. Adding to the emotional scope of the track, it was co-written and co-produced by Drexler’s son Pablo, a talented musician in his own right. This is their first official recording together.
“In the middle of a pandemic, a song like ‘Tocarte’ underscores the primordial need to touch another person,” says Drexler. “We shot a music video that illustrates the sophisticated side of sensuality, the erotic as an ongoing search for beauty. As we begin to come out of our shells again returning to normalcy, we pine for physical contact: a kiss, the skin, closeness.”
From the subtle humor of “Cinturón Blanco” – where the martial arts concept of unlearning acquired skills and returning to white belt serves as a metaphor for the evolution of a romantic partnership – to the more experimental “¡Oh, Algoritmo!,” with Drexler venturing into musical soundscapes that are new to him, and the wide-eyed tenderness of “Duermevela,” dedicated to Drexler’s late mother and featuring his three children - Pablo on production and Luca and Leah on backing vocals - the album explores every single facet of love as the driving force that sustains us all.
“It’s like a mirror ball,” he says. “Every little mirror reflecting a different side of this phenomenon we call love.”
Born in Montevideo to a German Jewish father who barely escaped the Holocaust, Drexler was a busy physician before he decided to become a full-time singer and moved to Madrid in 1995. His unique style – the softness of his voice, coupled with a knack for lovely melodies and lyrics of unusual depth – gained him many fans through albums such as Sea (2001) and Eco (2004.) “Al Otro Lado Del Río,” a song he wrote for the film The Motorcycle Diaries, won an Academy Award in 2005. Drexler’s subsequent albums found him expanding his eclectic palette, collaborating with such transcendent artists as Caetano Veloso, Natalia Lafourcade and Mercedes Sosa.
Now, the conceptual song-cycle of Tinta y Tiempo sums up his lush take on popular song, its ability to uplift and enlighten.
“We have just emerged from a very difficult experience,” he adds. “Our capacity to love and our zest for life have been tested. The act of loving involves a certain sense of confusion, of losing control, and there’s nothing wrong with that. We should not lock ourselves in a world fueled by fear and self-oppression. We must keep our hearts thirsty for more, much more - against all odds.”