Juan Wauters "Wandering Rebel" Sea Blue LP (2023)
Details: Juan Wauters "Wandering Rebel" Sea Blue LP (2023, Captured Tracks). New stock, sealed.
Description: There's freedom to be found in consistency. Until recently, Juan Wauters may not have agreed with this statement. As a touring musician and multinational citizen, transience had always come naturally to him. Circumstance, however, recently prompted him to reconsider the benefits of staying in one place. His most introspective work to date, Wauters' sixth solo album Wandering Rebel finds the artist taking stock of how he's changed, how the world sees him, and what he wants out of life.Written mostly during an extended break from touring, the songs on Wandering Rebel are candid reflections on subjects like career, "Wandering Rebel," romantic commitment, "Amor Amor," mental health, "Nube Negra," and the personal toll of touring, "Let Loose." On "Modus Operandi," he voices his frustration with New York's fairweather residents, who fled the city at the onset of the COVID-19 lockdown. Vocal contributions from fellow New Yorker Greta Kline (Frankie Cosmos) add to the chorus of playful disapproval. On the singalong-worthy "Millionaire," he turns his eye to the west coast: "It's hard to get around Los Angeles / If you don't have a car / I'm staying in a privileged part of town / It's suspicious for me to be walking.”
The clarity with which Wauters approaches these subjects lyrically is reflected in the music as well. His trademark eclecticism is still present (fans of Real Life Situations' spirited hip-hop should look to track 6, "Bolero"), but it's more refined this time, anchored in his signature Latin-influenced indie folk. Wandering Rebel is peppered with delicate additions that add depth throughout; rain sounds and hand drums on "Nube Negra," a strings section on "Modus Operandi," a gentle vibraphone on "Amor, Amor." Some of these are classic Wauters touches, but others are owed to outside influences, like production from Brooklyn-based Carlos Hernandez (Ava Luna, Carlos Truly) and Brazilian indie artist Sessa, as well as vocal contributions from Kline, Luz Elena Mendoza (Y La Bamba), Zoe Gotusso, and Super Willy K. Throughout Wandering Rebel, Wauters attempts to reconcile the stability he's come to enjoy with the nomadic restlessness that's characterized his life thus far. In the end, though, it's the interplay of both of these elements that makes the album so strong."
Grade: M (new stock)