“Keep in mind I’m not here, I’m from a different world.”
That line is from the chorus of “Different”, the lead single from Ximena Sariñana‘s recent self-titled album, and it speaks volumes about where she is as an artist at the moment. Her debut LP, Mediocre, was released in her native Mexico in 2008 and performed well both commercially and critically, earning her two Latin Grammy nominations, but when it came time to record her second record, she was faced with a dilemna. “Either stay in my country, where everyone knows who I am, or start from scratch and convince people that I’m worth it,” Ximena was quoted as saying. Well, she chose the latter, and her efforts are just starting to pay off. She was named our You Oughta Know artist last August, she played a gig for a couple of hundred die-hard fans at New York City’s Mercury Lounge last night, and she was able to land a highly-coveted spot at this year’s Coachella Festival, too.
Ximena’s set last night was a mix of songs from her first two albums; she sung three songs in Spanish, and the remaining seven were in English. The 25-year-old stood confidently center stage, singing and playing her Nord keyboard (accompanied by a guitarist, a bassist, a drummer and a percussionist), and slowly sipped from a single glass of whiskey throughout the course of the show. “I’m totally drinking whiskey instead of water,” she bantered. “It’s like the worst thing for a singer, but it’s either my voice is better, or my general mood and perkiness.”
Well, for the record, both her voice and “general mood” were seemingly strong last night, at least from our vantage point. Whether she’s singing in English or Spanish, her voice comes across as expressive and rich with emotion. The crowd’s reaction to her material, though, seemed to split a bit down language lines; there were certainly different heads bobbing in the audience depending on what language she performed a given song in. Regardless of the audience’s preferred tongue, the highlight of the show was the first song Ximena performed out of the gate, a stirring Spanish language ballad called “Mediocre.” Your reviewer doesn’t speak anything closely resembling fluent Spanish, so I wasn’t entirely sure about every word that she was singing but, as they say, the language of music is universal. She stood all by her lonesome in the middle of the stage, and delivered a bravura, passionate performance of a song that’s clearly got some intensely personal meaning to her. (She performed this song when she came by our offices last year, you can watch her performance of “Mediocre” below.)
No matter the language that Ximena performs in, her abilty to craft a catchy tune is undeniable. Her song “Different” was recently used in a Pop Tarts campaign, and she’s able to write great hooks and perky, electro-infused melodies. She’s an expressive lyricist, too, and her skills in this arena will only continue to grow with time and experience. Just like we told you last summer, Ximena Sariñana is definitely an artist that You Oughta Know.
SET LIST: Mediocre / Love Again / Shine Down / Normal / Different / Tu Y Yo / Bringing Us Down / Common Ground / The Bid / Echo Park
[Photo: Getty Images]