Spanish musician Jairo Zavala despite having a long career in many Spanish rock bands such as Amparanoia, Vacazul, Los Coronas, and Calexico has finally sought to do things on his own—as a solo project called Depedro. His self-titled debut has an interesting sound that I’m sure would suit Quentin Tarentino’s or Robert Rodriguez’s fancy for their next soundtrack. It exudes a bluesy, yet psychedelic sound all found in the confines of Latin music that would make complete sense as background music in Pulp Fiction, Desperado or old 60’s and 70’s spy films.
It is evident from just the first few samplings of the CD that, while most of the tracks have a similar sound with the utilization of flamenco/acoustic guitars, horns, bass and drums, Zavala does like to vary his approach. “Tomorrow” essentially is a slow ballad with guitars and piano, “Como el viento” on the other hand starts slow with horns but turns into a flamenco-based track and “Comanche” is a faster song that combines flamenco with electric guitar.
Considering the type of music, there is a lot of depth. Zavala really knows how to compose a song from the instruments to the vocal melodies. His guitar playing is pretty good, but it isn’t a style that is going to blow your mind. He doesn’t do solos, but he has a keen ear for rhythm and is a superb picker. Another element that stands out through the entirety is how well-versed he is with the different types of guitars he plays on the album.
Compositionally though, it isn’t just his knowledge of the guitar that makes his sound unique. His choices in placing other instruments within the tracks are key proponents to the album’s success. This is especially evident in his usage of horns which, ultimately, is what gives certain tracks such as “Don’t Leave Me Now” that psychedelic/atmospheric sound. He doesn’t overuse them; instead, he places them in subtle fashion instead of mashing it with the basic sound of the band.
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Vocally, Zavala isn’t a particularly standout singer, but he definitely isn’t bad either. Simply put, his vocals fit the music he is singing over. He has a soft mid-range that is very pleasant to the listener’s ear. While most of the tracks are in Spanish, with very few selective segments in English, it doesn’t take away from the experience if you are not fluent in the language. Zavala has a conviction to his vocals and exudes just the right of emotion.
Without a shadow of a doubt, Jairo Zavala is a talented musician. At the same time though, his self-titled solo debut Depedro is not going to break any ground. Most likely in one form or another, most people have heard the sounds featured here, whether it has been on the Pulp Fiction soundtrack or from various other Spanish rock acts out there today.