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Natalia Lafourcade's newest album has been a long time coming

A MARTÍNEZ, HOST:

The year was 2015. And Natalia Lafourcade practically swept the Latin Grammys - Song of the Year, Record of the Year, Best Alternative album and Song.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "HASTA LA RAIZ")

NATALIA LAFOURCADE: (Singing in Spanish).

MARTÍNEZ: So you think, well, follow it up quickly - right? - and strike while the iron is hot. Not so much. It's taken seven years for Natalia Lafourcade to release an album of original material. But it's here now. And it's titled "De todas las flores."

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "MARIA LA CURANDERA")

LAFOURCADE: (Singing in Spanish).

The timing for this album, it's been like cooking a dish in very, very slow fire.

MARTÍNEZ: Cooking for a long time, you know, sometimes it's (speaking Spanish), you know?

LAFOURCADE: It's good, yeah.

MARTÍNEZ: Yeah, it really is.

She says these songs are her musical diary from the past seven years, covering life, death, love gone wrong and healing.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "DE TODAS LAS FLORES")

LAFOURCADE: (Singing in Spanish).

MARTÍNEZ: The title track, that's actually my favorite one, "De todas las flores" - "Of All The Flowers." In that song, you sing, of all the flowers that we planted, only a few are still in bloom. Every morning, they wonder when you will come and sing to them.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "DE TODAS LAS FLORES")

LAFOURCADE: (Singing in Spanish).

MARTÍNEZ: That sounds like a breakup song.

LAFOURCADE: It is a breakup song. It comes from love - (speaking Spanish). It's, like, heartbroken. But also, it has a lot to do with that inner garden, which is me, right? So it's a metaphor of this thing that happens when you fall in love with somebody and then you give so much that you forget about your own garden. And now it's like I have to go back to my empty space and build it all again and see what's inside.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "DE TODAS LAS FLORES")

LAFOURCADE: (Singing in Spanish).

MARTÍNEZ: What is it about breakups, though, because "Hasta la raiz" was a breakup album - "De todas las flores," breakup song.

LAFOURCADE: (Laughter).

MARTÍNEZ: I mean, what is it about breakups with you that sparks musical expression?

LAFOURCADE: I don't know. I don't know. It happened. I mean, right now, I am married. And I am very, very happy. But there was a moment I got separate. I was broken inside. I was trying to keep going. That's why I love this metaphor about this huge garden inside myself that has so many different places that I could even forget they exist in there. So then when you go through this inner journey, it's such a deep process and long thing to do. Like, you get there. And you don't know what you are going to run into.

(SOUNDBITE OF NATALIA LAFOURCADE SONG, "MI MANERA DE QUERER")

MARTÍNEZ: In "Mi manera de querer" - "My Way Of Loving" - you describe and sing about what kind of lover you are.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "MI MANERA DE QUERER")

LAFOURCADE: (Singing in Spanish).

This one is very light. And it's very honest. And it's very much my way of thinking about love, because I realized that at the very, very end, you're a human being that is full of light inside. And when you're able to connect to that inner light, and when you're able to really, really feel that and to really love that inside yourself, then you're able to see that in others. And you're able to realize how that light, it's inside every person you can have in front of you.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "MI MANERA DE QUERER")

LAFOURCADE: (Singing in Spanish).

MARTÍNEZ: But isn't that difficult, loving yourself?

LAFOURCADE: Yes (laughter).

MARTÍNEZ: I mean, there's everything, like forgiving yourself, loving yourself. That seems to be the most difficult first step that most human beings can do...

LAFOURCADE: Oh, yeah.

MARTÍNEZ: ...Before they can do that with anyone else.

LAFOURCADE: Yeah. And when you go through a breakup, it's so hard - right? - because you can get so mad at that person and be like, you did this to me and this happened. And then it's so hard to forgive yourself. It's such a profound process.

MARTÍNEZ: Another song that really grabbed my ears was "Muerte" - "Death." And you started by saying, I give thanks to death for showing me how to live.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "MUERTE")

LAFOURCADE: (Speaking Spanish).

MARTÍNEZ: It sounded, though, I mean, like, you were reciting a poem more than you were singing. Why did you approach that song in this way?

LAFOURCADE: When I was at the studio trying to sing the melody of this song, it felt like this one, with its own spirit and soul, was really fighting the melodies. This one was like, please, just say the words.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "MUERTA")

LAFOURCADE: (Speaking Spanish).

And it was very hard. So I was like, OK, if I don't sing, then what I do?

MARTÍNEZ: So you were fighting yourself not to just sing?

LAFOURCADE: Yes.

MARTÍNEZ: Wow.

LAFOURCADE: It seemed everything was good. But my singing, it was horrible.

MARTÍNEZ: I don't believe that.

LAFOURCADE: (Laughter) It was so terrible.

MARTÍNEZ: No, I don't believe that.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "MUERTE")

LAFOURCADE: (Singing in Spanish).

So I really wanted to tell through this song how much I thank death, that small, little death that I had through love and all what happened next, because that let me be so alive and so present and so open to this new moment in my life.

MARTÍNEZ: I think a lot of people are going to be surprised pleasantly by that one, by "Muerte".

LAFOURCADE: Thank you. That's nice (laughter) because I suffered for that one.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "MUERTE")

LAFOURCADE: (Speaking Spanish).

MARTÍNEZ: She's Natalia Lafourcade. And her new album is called "De todas las flores." Natalia, thank you very much.

LAFOURCADE: Thank you so much. Thank you for this space.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "MUERTE")

LAFOURCADE: (Speaking Spanish). Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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A Martínez is one of the hosts of Morning Edition and Up First. He came to NPR in 2021 and is based out of NPR West.