Michele Dominguez Greene,
Luna Roja
(Appleseed, 2006)

Singer/songwriter/actress/novelist Michele Dominguez Green's second CD, Luna Roja, celebrates her bicultural and bilingual background. With Mexican/Nicaraguan and Irish blood running through her veins, Michele sings nine originals and one cover mostly in Spanish, but in English on occasion as well. Most of the songs are supported by beautiful Latin guitar melodies.

Before getting to some of the individual tracks, let me point out that you might already be familiar with some of Michele's work over the years. She has spent much time on television including her role as Abby Perkins on L.A. Law from the late '80s to early '90s. She has also had guest appearances on The Dukes of Hazzard, Nip/Tuck and Six Feet Under, to name a few shows. Michele is in the process of writing a series of young-adult mystery novels, the first of which is Chasing the Jaguar. She has previously written screenplays and magazine articles.

Enough about her multiple careers. This review is about Luna Roja. As I stated, most of the songs are sung in Spanish and this is where Michele's singing strength resides. Michele has a natural warble in her vocals that I think is better suited to singing in Spanish than English. Perhaps it is the supporting Latin melodies that make me think that to a degree. But, where I find her vocals pretty for seven tracks, I find them just OK for three. The only real difference is the language in which she performs.

Focusing on the Spanish songs, my two favorites are "Oro, Herrumbre y Lagrimas" and "Luna Roja." It has to be the Latin guitar that does it; the melodies on these selections are special. The guitar has a lot of emotional depth; add a lovely voice and the listener is in for a treat. On the negative side, when I read the English translations of the songs, I'm not overly impressed. Could something be lost in translation? I doubt it, since Michele is bilingual. Despite the fact that the lyrics may be relatively simple, they certainly sound great in Spanish!

Michele is backed on Luna Roja by several talented musicians. Her co-writer on most of the songs, Ciro Hurtado, is a Peruvian guitarist. I imagine it is his magic that sends the little tingles up my spine when he performs short solos during many of the songs. Michele's backing band, Los Tios, contains members from another band I've reviewed in the past, Conjunto Jardin, specifically, Cindy (percussion) and Libby Harding (backing vocals), Gary Johnson (accordion) and Jorge Mijangos (guitar). You will also hear Tiki Pasillas (drums/percussion), Guillermo Guzman (bass), Ramon Flores (trumpets) and John Gorka (vocals).

Luna Roja is a very pleasant CD. It will appeal to lovers of more traditional-sounding Latin music. Michele reaches across the bilingual divide by providing both Spanish and English lyrics. While I prefer the Spanish tracks, I am sure there are listeners who would disagree with me. Either way, if this musical style is your general cup of tea, Luna Roja is worthy of bringing a little color to your collection.

by Wil Owen
5 May 2007

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