One Random Single a Day #106: “Hablemos de amor” (1978) by Leonardo Favio

Today seems to be all about the foreign language fare! Before this, I’ve written about two foreign language recordings from two separate European countries – “Kansi kiinni ja kuulemiin” and “Ik zie de zon”. And now here comes a third… although this performer hails from an entirely different continent. Leonardo Favio was one of the most successful Argentine performers of the 1960s and 70s. He is probably best known for his intense romantic ballads like “Fuiste mía un verano”, “Ella… ella ya me olvidó”, and “O quizás simplemente le regale una rosa”, which all nail him down as a perfect symbol of the “latin lover” image. Before I even fully understood the lyrics to “Fuiste mía un verano” (Spanish for “You were mine one summer”), I could really pinpoint the shades of raw, emotional heartbreak found in the contours of his voice. Once I did translate the lyrics, I was even more convinced – that song is practically cinematic in its dramatic interpretation of lost love amidst a swelling emotional pull. The other two songs are no different: this man is quite a crooner, in every sense of the word.

So I was a little shaken up when, after listening to those three tracks, I gave a listen to the song for today, “Hablemos de amor”. Here, Favio trades in the romantic ballads for something a bit more poppier, the swelling guitar and strings replaced with more staccato flutes and horns. And even though he still performs a rather decent vocal delivery here, it’s less of the operatic intensity of his most famous songs and more fluttery and playful. His frequent utterances of “Uh-huh, mm-hmm” and “La-la, la-la” throughout the song should immediately give the impression that the subject matter here is something of a more light-hearted nature than previously found in his earlier work.

Much like “Fuiste mía un verano”, there is a story to this song, although while the former was a reminiscence on painful heartbreak, this one falls on the exact opposite side of the spectrum. Here, Favio plays a tourist in Mexico (presumably Mexico City) who, over the course of the song, falls in love with the beautiful tour guides showing him the various sites and landmarks of the area. Amidst a narrative that sprinkles in references to Diego Rivera and Teotihuacan, Favio’s character muses on the ways that he can transition the talk from more formal, historical conversation to something a bit more casual and enticing. In the end, he settles on just kissing her to end the conversation fully. While I’m not entirely a fan of this concept (just let the poor woman do her damn job!), I think Favio plays off the idea rather charmingly and even humorously.

While it is a bit of a risk for a performer to take a complete 180 in the type of material they take on, I think Favio succeeds with his attempts here. The song is so damn breezy, light-hearted, and immediately catchy, it’s hard keep from dancing from the very first listen. Moreover, Favio’s vocal performance is actually quite good throughout this one, offering a smooth balance between his traditional crooner style and a more lighter, talk-singing style, neither of which are particularly grating or jarring. The production is tinged with a wonderful summertime feel, and while the subject matter may not be the most morally conscious, at least it sounds like a good time, through and through. Against my better judgment, I actually like this song quite a bit – at least its offerings are somewhat less stale than Favio’s other somewhat stuffy ballads. It’s good, clean fun – what more could you ask for?

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