Xenia Rubinos didn't think she'd be able to make music again. After a period of extensive touring and personal hardship, she visited a curandero, who saw in her a "pérdida de espíritu"--loss of spirit. It's now been five years since her last album, Black Terry Cat, and her third project, Una Rosa, isn't a neat bookend to the period in between, nor is it a balm or salve.
Una Rosa is a successful step in a wildly new direction. While her previous work seemed emotionally confessional, here Rubinos steps back and goes theatrical: cosplaying as the melodramatic divas and lounge singers like Lucilla Villa who were played around her house as a child. On "Ay Hombre" she sounds like she's prowling around a dusty jazz bar, draping herself over pianos and dragging a cigarillo between lines.
Eight years into her career, it's apparent that Xenia Rubinos prefers to wipe the proverbial slate clean before releasing her next album. Although she's worked hard at avoiding idle musical classification, her 2013 EP, Magic Trix, was nonetheless praised by lovers of angular post-rock and found her supporting indie weirdos Man Man on tour, while her 2016 debut album, Black Terry Cat, earned comparisons to Erykah Badu.
On sophomore LP Una Rosa, her first in five years, Rubinos throws a dizzying and merciless array of influences, sounds, and ideas at the canvas, often to diminishing returns. But it's the Hartford artist's tight musical acumen that frequently saves this LP from completely collapsing under its own weight.