Tierra que Anda, from the acclaimed Argentinean singer Silvia Irionda, describes, as its title suggests, a ‘walking land’. The phrase refers to a native Indian way of locating humankind at the centre of the land; and for Irionda this means undertaking a musical journey through the breadth of Argentina, from Tierra del Fuego to the borders of Bolivia. Like Argentina itself, Tierra que Anda is a big undertaking.
It’s also an album about the rhythms found throughout the land: Peruvian cueca, Creole gato, Quechua huayno are among the many – tango is the only one missing here – that beat out the country’s history of migrations. It is a wonderfully simple approach that allows Irionda literally to dance her geography.
Tierra que Anda is a meticulously recorded album, one in which birdsong helps introduce the opener, ‘Alas de plata’ (Silver Wings), and an airy atmosphere pervades throughout. Iriondo favours a delicate instrumentation – acoustic guitars, percussion and a few strings are subtle presences on an album, where ‘patagonic wind’ is the only voice out of the ordinary.
But above all, there’s an air of melancholy in Irionda’s exquisite phrasing. All journeys have to end, and she leaves us quietly in a unique way. In fact, rarely is a closing song – here, ‘La Nostalgiosa’ (the Nostalgia Song) – more effective. Based on a dance in which retreating participants wave their handkerchiefs until they’re spots on the horizon, the singer’s voice gradually fades further and further away, leaving as lightly as she came.