Lotofire might be Ely Guerra's U.S. debut, but there's an experienced performer behind this disc -- in her native Mexico it's her third record. And accomplished it certainly is, while also intelligent and mostly off the beaten path. Even the two tracks that veer closest to alternative rock have a definite tweak -- thanks to the involvement of producers Andres Levin and Arto Lindsay, while guitarist Marc Ribot offers some left-field contributions. Ultimately, though, it's down to Guerra, and she has the songs and voice to make this work, as in "Profunidad," which takes a bizarre but intriguing turn into dub close to the end. Guerra's part-Brazilian heritage -- her father is from there -- colors a lot of the rhythms, as in the stripped-down "El Mar," where she shows the power of her magic through simplicity. There's no singer/songwriter out there, in any language, who's mining similar territory and taking so many chances, and her breathy voice has a seductive, languid air that connects with the innate sensuality of some of the material. That's not to say the focus is on romance; anything but. "Vete" deals with the problems of indigenous Mexican communities, "El Tiempo" is a reminder to look after the earth, and "Yo No" demands respect for women over a drum'n'bass rhythm. Released in 1999 in her own country, it took almost three years to find release in the United States -- and even with that gap, it still manages to sound utterly fresh. A remarkable achievement for an excellent talent.
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AllMusic Review by Chris Nickson