“La Maldita Bruja” by Nancy Sánchez. Utterly captivating and utterly chilling.
“Bruja” is “witch” in Spanish, but not the broomstick-riding hag in the peaked hat of European folklore. As with all things Mexican, a “bruja” can be many things, but especially it is the magical creature shaped like the woman down the street who sucks human blood at night. She may be old, she may be young, she may be plain, she may be colorful. But she is always evil.
Nancy Sanchez’s new single “ La Maldita Bruja” – The Dammed Witch in English – takes this concept and weaves it into a dark, understated, haunting song that makes you a bit uneasy if you understand the Spanish lyrics, and even if you don’t, tells you musically that danger lurks beneath its seductive surface.
The witch sleeps down the corner/And when I’m alone I close the curtain…..
They say she eats little children/and old men who loosen up a little
Sanchez rolls out the story of the damn witch with a smooth, emotionally distant voice whose beauty belies the evil she chronicles, making it seem almost normal Accompanied only by the melancholy guitar melodies of Andy Abad, Sanchez conjures a magical spell that both evokes and displaces “La Llorona”, the classic Mexican song of the banshee that roams the night looking for the children she drowned.
Where “La Llorona” is emotive and wrenching, “La Maldita Bruja” is gently malicious. Rather than the soaring urgency of the classic, Nancy tells the bruja’s tale with deceptive sighs, a detached voice and anguished cries. Utterly captivating and utterly chilling.
The song was born from the current pandemic, but the accompanying Maricela Lazcano-directed video hints at the Black Plague of 14th Century Europe, while it uses costume and makeup to place Sanchez in a more recent, but equally intriguing corner of Mexican history, the mid-19th Century China Poblana Antigua subculture of women of mixed ancestry whose independent lifestyle and colorful dress allowed them to negotiate all levels of Mexican society. Again, a message of women who easily move through the boundaries of society, like a witch.
She senses. She senses/That no one has seen her, sings Sanchez of the Maldita Bruja , but we see the witch, plain as day now that Sanchez has revealed her. It is an eerie image I won’t forget and music I will play over and over again.
“ La Maldita Bruja” by Nancy Sanchez available on Spotify (search by title, not artist).
Video streaming on YouTube.
Nancy Sanchez www.nancysanchezmusic.com/
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