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More storytelling by Carlos Vives in his latest, longest disc: “Vives”

Bogota /  Three years since his last studio disc, Colombia’s Carlos Vives made a worldwide launch Friday of his new album “Vives,” under the Sony Music label, with 18 songs full of storytelling and urgent messages.

“I’ve been gathering people’s stories without losing their essence. These days artists think about how to record a disc that will attract more views, more likes and that’s going to air on the radio more…but I think of the album, of telling stories,” the singer-songwriter born in the Caribbean city of Santa Marta said passionately in an interview with EFE.

“Vives,” which he began recording a year and a half ago between Miami and Bogota, includes already well-known songs like “La Bicicleta” in collaboration with Shakira, “Robarte un Beso” with Sebastian Yatra, “El Orgullo de Mi Patria,” dedicated to Colombian cyclists, “Pescaito” and “Al Filo de Tu Amor.”

Among the new compositions that tell stories are “La Mujer en la Ventana” (Woman in the Window) “Los Niños Olvidados” (Forgotten Children) and “Todos Somos Mexico” (We’re All Mexico).

“In Santa Marta a journalist reported how a woman was attacked by her husband who cut open her face with a broken bottle. She ran to the window to plead for help and the journalist took the picture. “The woman in the window’ photo moved the entire city. They told me I had to write a song about it and I did,” he said.

With “Los Niños Olvidados,” Vives also recounts painful situations that persist in Colombia, like the death of youngsters from malnutrition in abandoned regions like La Guajira province.

“I composed the song based on shots I saw on the TV news of an event called the Black Blankets Ceremony. Moms from La Guajira in the north brought to Bogota many small coffins bearing the names of their deceased children. It struck me deeply to see how they cried for those little ones…and I realized we had never cried for them,” he said.

That song, which at first had “the sound of prayer,” became more combative and harsh in its denunciation once it had the collaboration of Colombian rapper Cynthia Montaño.

This album, which Vives considers the best of his career, has other surprising collaborations: the Mexican Thalía and Elena Vives, his nine-year-old daughter.

The musical novelties of this album in certain cases echo the new urban sound without abandoning traditional melodies.

For Vives, this entry into more youthful territory is a natural evolution for artists.

“Twenty-five years ago I decided to base my work on Colombian music. Every day that journey becomes more intense,” he said.

Vives, who this Saturday will be the star at the inauguration of the 18th Bolivarian Games in his native Santa Marta, said he has more projects lined up but does not plan to announce them just yet.

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