Perla Batalla

Heaven and Earth: The Mestiza Voyage

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"Mestiza" refers to a woman of mixed Native American and European ancestry, and it would certainly have been nice if the liner notes to Heaven and Earth: The Mestiza Voyage would have explained to the uninitiated what "Mestiza" means and what this multifaceted, multi-stylistic journey is about -- something to clue listeners in to the overall concept and storyline. Instead, listeners must decipher this worldbeat/folk/rock excursion through travelogue and spacy lyrical images, mainly in English and a few in foreign tongues. Batalla has a powerful, clear voice that can be hypnotic and mystical (on the atmospheric opening track "Teotihuacan") or straightforward and edgy (on the percussive folk-rocker "Heaven and Earth"). "Tears of the Sun" has an emotional intensity about it, but again, the images of sun and Milky Way without an accompanying road map don't make enough sense. "Burning" offers a cool Brazilian lilt, while "Turtle Island" has a '60s "Ode to Billy Joe" kind of air. From titles beginning with "Burning" through "Out of the Labyrinth" and "Salvation," the theme of the Mestiza's spiritual redemption seems to emerge. But Batalla shouldn't make listeners work so hard to figure that out.

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