On PANAMERICANO (release: March 1, 2013), Sandoval and his band offer creative, catchy proof to back this joyful claim of self-determination. The indie-inspired, Latin-hearted group chronicles the journey of a young Latino turning toward his roots, wandering through strange cities and remote mountains, across two continents, in search of himself and social justice. The songs follow his progress, thanks in part to the lush but funky touch ofproducer José Luis Pardo of Venezuela’s Los Amigos Invisibles, moving from funkified anthems (“200%”) to alt.tangos (“Santa Maria del BuenAire”) to earthy Andean explorations (“Peruvian Groovin”).
PANAMERICANO is powered by a strong narrative that runs through the album. It’s the story of boy meets girl, loses girl, loses himself in a new land, then finds the will to spark a revolution back home in the U.S., bringing about the advent of a long-awaited immigration reform (the upbeat and punky “L.A. Revolution”). “I wanted to create a composite character,” Sandoval explains, “a protagonist who could put a human face to the experiences of so many young Latinos, and take what I wanted to say beyond slogans, into something more personal and emotional.”
Each song is a new chapter in the story, and this narrative approach lets Sandoval get at aspects that resonate with his own past—the double consciousness of Cuban-American life, the complexities of cultural identity—and at more universal issues of love, hope, and migration. It has also sparked a “videonovela” version of the same tale, with a different, locally produced music video/short film set in each country represented inPANAMERICANO, adding another dimension to Del Exilio’s storytelling (follow the series via delexilio.com). All set to a vibrant, multifaceted, multilingual, and danceable soundtrack.