Leonino, or Jorge Gonzalez is more than just a gifted songwriter and singer, he is a voice for the voiceless. Not too long ago Chile was under the iron grip of a brutal dictator by the name of Augusto Pinochet. He was into the habit of torturing or forcing into exile anyone who didn’t like him or the way he ran the country. During that dark time in Chile’s history Gonzalez used his platform as an artist and leader of Los Prisioneros to throw jabs at the country’s commander-in-chief and his military government. This is how one of Chile’s most iconic rock bands attained its notoriety throughout the country and the entire Latin America in the mid-1980s.
Gonzalez’s work with Los Prisonieros catapulted him into the global spotlight and in 1988 he joined the Amnesty Tour, sharing the stage with Sting, Bruce Springsteen, Peter Gabriel and Tracy Chapman among other prominent rock stars. He went on to enjoy remarkable success as a solo artist, staging shows throughout South America commanding audiences of tens of thousands, sometimes without the help of other acts. Leonino’s growth as an artist has seen him fuse his favored punk style with elements of electronica and dance. This willingness to embrace new formats and instruments has only served to win Leonino more fans. His musical evolution finally took him to the other side of the Atlantic to Germany’s capital where he found a group of like-minded artists, some from his homeland.
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Inside Naked Tunes
It is there that Gonzalez recorded his latest release ‘Naked Tunes’. Working from Krossener Studios in Berlin, he did everything- the songwriting, vocals and production of this acoustic, pop-infused offering. The album begins with the dreamy, acoustic ‘I Think We Should Be Friends’ which features Pier Bucci and could not have got off to a better start. Airy strings transport you to a prairie carpeted in swaying grass where piercing sunlight descends from a cloudless sky. ’Don’t Change Your Mind’ reveals Leonino for the eclectic wanderer that he is. Piano strokes, guitar plucking, synth and cute electronic samples are sprinkled over a gently moaning bassline. While he sings the hook in colorful harmonics, the verses are delivered in a form of soothing rap that blends effortlessly into the R&B-flavored track. The lyrics get gruesome as he talks about “cut my life in two and keep the big slice for you” and “stab me in the back, go ahead kill me” but it’s all playful imagery for your entertainment.
Songs for love
If you’ve been a naughty boy and forgotten Valentine’s Day, flowers, candy and ‘My Love Will Set You Free’ will get you off the hook; I guarantee it. And if you can sing the ballad, with the Spanish accent and box guitar, you’re in for the kiss of your life. It’s what the lyrics are designed for. Enrique Iglesias fans will need no second invitation to love this song. If you love you a gospel tune now and then you will be happy ‘How Many Times Did You Save My Soul’ made the final cut. Like in most of the album’s other nine tracks, the harmonies are impeccable, guided by a steely piano.
The downtempo ‘It Wasn’t Meant To Be’ will appeal to lovers of a solid, imaginative composition, regardless of their genre preference. R&B lovers will however be prone to putting this song on repeat. ‘After the Big War’ is about as close Leonino comes to his punk roots, acoustic as it is. But nothing will keep you from bobbing your head to this tune largely stripped of all embellishments save a guitar, bass and harmonica.
Naked Tunes is undoubtedly the work of a veteran blessed with an ear for a good fusion. This LP is destined to appeal to folks of all ages and creeds.
Miami Based, Internationally Known