Ignacio Peña’s single “She’s Bleeding” from the album release Songs for the Fall of an Empire and its accompanying music video demonstrate the full breadth of his talents for those familiar with him and newcomers alike. He is a musician, yes, but he’s a producer, multimedia creator, and a two time Emmy award winning video director and editor. This impressive array of skills is fully displayed with this new single. He graduated from Boston’s famed Berklee College of Music and first emerged on the scene with his 2000 debut album El Mundo al Revés and toured music festivals throughout the United States, Panama, Argentina, and Venezuela in support of the release. His ambition took full flight with the 2010 educational multimedia concert The Great Planet Earth Debate, a project designed for schools that led to him being invited as a speaker at universities and educational conferences alike in both his native Puerto Rico and the United States as well. “She’s Bleeding” continues his tradition of writing and recording challenging compositions and works as both a standalone work and a piece in a much larger artistic work.
We will begin with the video. It opens with an evocative image of the Statue of Liberty on New York’s Staten Island and the subsequent images culled from American history soon remove all doubt about who the “she” is referred to in the song title. Those aforementioned images are interspersed with footage of Peña and his band “performing” the song and each member, including Peña, acquit themselves well physically dramatizing the song’s energy. It is a lyric video, in some respects, but Peña is probably too cute by a half disguising the song’s fine words as symbols instead of words – but it is the only potential misstep you will find in your viewing. He bookends the video with a final look at the Statue of Liberty.
The aforementioned symbols instead of lyrics don’t matter in the end. This is thanks to Peña’s clear vocal – there are few, if any, words obscured by the musical arrangement. He has an appealing voice with warmth and a smattering of atmospherics giving the performance an added shot of dramatic power. He peaks at the right moments, as well, and brings a great deal of impact to the chorus without ever sacrificing artfulness along the way. His phrasing veers from those moments of unquestioned power into emotive understatement with a seamlessness many performers will envy. He makes it sound quite natural.
There is a bit of rock punch in the arrangement, but this is closer to top shelf adult pop without any of the negative connotations we might associate with the word “pop”. It has an airy lift and there isn’t a single second during the recording when the band sounds flat footed or uninspired. It has a coherent mid-tempo sweep, patient throughout, and possesses a clear beginning, middle, and end. There are no self indulgent musical interludes. Ignacio Peña’s “She’s Bleeding” is an exceptional piece of songcraft tackling a serious subject and theme in a thoughtful and insightful way – he never browbeats the listener with politics but, rather, sings from the heart and makes you believe.
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