This Is How You Smile

This Is How You Smile

by Helado NegroHelado Negro


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Considering how Private Energy positively beamed thanks to radiant songs like "It's My Brown Skin" and "Young, Latin and Proud," the title of Helado Negro's sixth album could come as a surprise. However, on This Is How You Smile, Roberto Carlos Lange finds ways to sustain a sense of identity, family, and love when that energy runs low. For these strong yet tender songs, Lange drew inspiration from Jamaica Kincaid's short story "Girl," in which an immigrant mother gives her daughter instructions on how to survive and thrive in a world that wasn't made for her. Lange's flair for imagery is just as deft as any author's: He sets the album's mood with "Please Won't Please," sounding weary but resilient as he sings "Lifelong history shows that brown won't go/Brown just glows" over a scuffed beat and luminous synths. On "Imagining What to Do," he sings of "waiting for the glow again," portraying joy, pride, and strength as resources that may flicker, but never fade away entirely. On these songs and throughout This Is How You Smile, Lange couples the evocative music at which he's always excelled with gorgeously insightful lyrics. He's grown into a subtly powerful songwriter over the years, and he's at the peak of his powers on "Pais Nublado," where the way its conversation between Spanish-speaking elders and English-speaking children flows adds to its poignancy. On "Running," he deals with these complicated and inescapable relationships with grace, setting his musings to a piano melody that's as warm and effortless as a sunbeam. The album's discourse includes not just the character's in Lange's songs, but Helado Negro's entire body of work. Along with shades of Private Energy, This Is How You Smile evokes the shadowy intimacy of Canta Lechuza and, on "Seen My Aura," the distant, sunny childhood memories of Double Youth. As always, the ambient side of Helado Negro's music is just as eloquent as Lange's songwriting, and interludes such as "Sabana de Luz" and the festive sounds of "My Real Name Is for My Friends" add to the album's hazy, lived-in warmth. While his advice to "take care of people today" on "Two Lucky" is the closest he gets to giving his listeners directives like Kincaid's, the sustenance Lange offers with these songs is more delicate than Private Energy's anthems, but just as necessary. A winning combination of his long-standing and more recently developed gifts, This Is How You Smile is a culmination of Helado Negro's work and completely relevant to when it was released.

Product Details

Release Date: 03/08/2019
Label: Rvng Int'l
UPC: 0747742382512
catalogNumber: 54
Rank: 15036

Album Credits

Performance Credits

Helado Negro   Primary Artist
Andy Stack   Steel Pan
Sufjan Stevens   Piano
Jason Ajemian   Bass
Tim Barnes   Percussion
Jason Trammell   Drums
Keith Reynaud   Guitar
Matt Crum   Bass,Guitar
Roberto Carlos Lange   Synthesizer,Electric Guitar,Voices,Moog Synthesizer,Noise,Ondes Martenot,Classical Guitar,Vibes,Korg,electronic percussion,Synthesizer Voices,Casio MT-30,Electric Banjo,Juno,Piano (Grand),Roland Juno 6
Jenn Wasner   Guitar
Adron   Voices
Nathaniel Morgan   Saxophone
Angela Morris   Saxophone
Joe Westerlund   Drums
Logan Coale   Bass
Kristi Sword   Footsteps,Echo
Jay Wynne   Drums
Xenia Rubinos   Voices
Owen Stewart-Robertson   Guitar
Bryan Abdul Collins   Synthesizer
Oliver Hill   Violin,Viola
Victoria Ruiz   Voices
Luis del Valle   Voices
Ela Minus   Voices
Aquiles Navarro   Trumpet
Raquel Berrios   Voices
Nene Humphrey   Voices
Chris Devoe   Synthesizer

Technical Credits

Matt Werth   Field Recording
Matana Roberts   Field Recording
Isaac Lekach   Field Recording
Jean Cook   Field Recording
Nick Sanborn   Writer,Synthesizer Arrangements
Roberto Carlos Lange   Composer,Producer,Engineer,Field Recording,Sequencers,Sound Board Control
Mike Grinser   Cut
Kristi Sword   Whistle
Michael Kaufmann   Field Recording
Brandon Kessler   Management
Jake Jefferson   Management
Derek Walin   Management

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