A preschool teacher by vocation, this indie folk singer-songwriter from Hermosillo, Sonora, after a period of turmoil found her voice and will—to free herself from an oppressive relationship—to pursue her dreams. The result is Los Colores, her debut album.
On Los ColoresCarmina Robles pours out her heart into songs about love, loss, hope and the walls that we as individuals build that become societal barometers. Her stories unfold in her native vernacular, Spanish. But the plaintive melodies and raw emotion in her execution strikes a chord of universality that transcends cultural divides.
“My music is folk with roots in the north of Mexico. Folk music from the south has a different sound,” Robles expands.
“The music from the north (Norteño) resembles American country music. And at the same time, my sound is a bit alternative.”
The opening track, “Hoy No Están Aquí” [“Today They Are Not Here”], speaks of a pivotal moment in her life.
“It was important for me to write this song because it gave me the courage to take my music further, to other places.”
Subsequently, Robles began traveling north to win American audiences.
“Los Colores” [“The Colors”], the title track,is a simple folk song about love. Its inspiration came during a road trip.
“I distinctly recall being on the highway, traveling through the desert towards Tucson and being awestruck by the beautiful spectrum of colors at sunset.”
The song captures a bittersweet memory bathed in light.
She also knows when it’s time to cash in what’s left of the poker chips and walk away. Like on “Los Bares Bajos” [“The Low Bars”], a spirited barroom romp, she sifts through the ashes of love to arrive at a forlorn conclusion: “And I say, I’d better get drunk instead.”
Moving effortlessly in another direction, on “Éxtasis” [“Ecstasy”] Robles draws from her rock influences — bands like Caifanes, iconic Mexican alt-rockers. Building from a whisper to a scream, she sings.
“To understand that you're here in a world without spaces/In an ecstasy drowning what is left of you.”
Robles digs deeper, “Sadness lets us see a reality that can be beautiful as well.”
Her pen also writes about social realities as they exist.
On “Se Van Alzando Muros” [“They Are Raising Walls”] Robles speaks out on the dehumanizing effect that separating human beings with border walls holds on the psyche.
“I opened myself to the internal walls within our culture. Being an outcast community, naturally, we believe that our value as people is less than others. I encourage you to recognize us as Latinos in all our greatness. To look up and show all our abilities before our shortcomings.”
With few instrumental embellishments, Los Colores is not a varnished production. It is raw. The simple arrangements are deftly upheld on the strength of Robles’ vocal melodies and her guitar; The measure of a good song. This is not the work of an old master in the winter of one’s life. No. These are the early flowers of an artist in bloom.
Check out “Zona de Guerra.” Her latest song addresses the violence that drug traffickers have wreaked on Ciudad Obregón, her hometown.