Rana Santacruz is at the vanguard of New York’s burgeoning Mexican emigré scene, leading a sharp young band that runs a wildly eclectic gamut from rancheras to rock, bluegrass to mariachi, nueva cancion to Irish music. Efforts to pigeonhole Rana’s music have been valiant (“Mexican bluegrass,” “Irish mariachi”) but ultimately in vain.
Born and raised in Mexico City, Rana Santacruz draws inspiration from the golden age of Mexican cinema to the magical realism novels of Gabriel Garcia Marquez, as well as musicians like Tom Waits and the Smiths.
Santacruz plays accordion and a variety of stringed instruments along with a cast of versatile musicians who add a folk and neo-classical flare with violin, cello, sax and jaw harp as well as traditional Mexican mariachi instruments like guitarrón, vihuela, trumpet and tuba.
The instrumentation, richness of the sound and delicate touch are reminiscent of Tucson’s Calexico but with a softer edge and sharper focus. Often sung in a lilting falsetto, the melodies soar, inbued with the kind of passion found in Cuban son and Portuguese fado, while the music takes you not only north and south of the border, but across the Atlantic and back.