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Album Review: Malena Cadiz Releases ‘Hellbent & Moonbound’

Los Angeles indie-folk artist Malena Cadiz just released her fourth album, Hellbent & Moonbound, a title taken from Ada Limón’s poem, “Drift.”

In the seven years since her last album Cadiz has uprooted her life, moved across the country, became a mother, juggled odd jobs, and spent the past few years going inward. Cadiz explains, “I found solace in being creative. I’d gone through so many transitions – it was a moment to be still and examine who and how I wanted to be, letting go of anything that wasn’t serving me, and leaning into what was…it’s been a long marinating process.”

Produced by Andrew Lappin at WaxLTD, Hellbent & Moonbound features some of L.A.’s most sought-after studio musicians, including Jason Abraham Roberts, Leeann Skoda, Matt Musty, Sam Kauffman-Skloff, and composer Bryan Senti.

Encompassing 10 tracks, the album begins with “Museum Shoes,” rolling out on a low-slung acoustic guitar topped by Cadiz’s inimitable vocals, at once soft and deliciously sandy. It’s one of those voices you can’t forget, singular and oh-so-bewitching.

A personal favorite because of its swaying, contagious rhythm, “Shatter” offers tasty flavors of alt-country merged with hints of tropical savors.

Talking about the song and video, Cadiz shares, “‘Shatter’ is about a longing to know the center and feel the truth of things. As in the subjective ‘truth’ of what feels aligned for each of us. For the video, director Sam Macon and I were inspired by our shared love of the beauty of decrepit things, the ruins of American capitalism like sad malls and abandoned shopping centers. We shot a lot of the video in this huge parking lot between a strip club and an abandoned office building in the valley. We also drew inspiration from the film adaptation of Raymond Chandler’s ‘The Long Goodbye’ by Robert Altman — I love Elliott Gould in that film and the way L.A. operates as its own character. Since the song is all about a search for truth referencing a noir detective story felt right.”

There’s a definite, luscious country feel to “The Real Thing,” highlighted by psychedelic washes of sonic textures and Cadiz’s dreamy vocals.

Creamy, shimmering, and drifting, “My Kind of Thief” is one of those glow-in-the-dark songs, the kind that causes listeners to close their eyes and slowly sway to the music.

Cadiz says, “Longing to be free and loose in the world – I like to imagine this one as an alter ego Bonnie and Clyde or Raymond Chandler-type character, on the lam, unbeholden to any societal values. Drinking cocktails in a seaside motel, with other drifters and grifters – like the girl at the bar who ‘says she’ll read my cards if I buy her a drink.’”

Another gem because of its gentle, glittering flow and pulsating bassline, “Easy” reveals an undulating rhythm and oozing coloration as Cadiz’s vocals imbue the lyrics with yielding tones.

The album closes with “Child Again,” about which Cadiz says, “On memory, growing old, reincarnation – Inspired by a party in rural Vermont after a festival we’d played. The immediacy of a party with all our friends and walking through the moonlit snow thinking about aging and mortality. I started this one in Molly Sarlés’s songwriting workshop through School of Song. We tracked this at Bryan Senti’s studio with him on felt piano and kept the vocal really dry and raw. I love how the album ends on this bare, vulnerable note.”

Wonderfully wrought and structured, Hellbent & Moonbound allows listeners to bathe their ears in the exquisite voice of Malena Cadiz.

Follow Malena Cadiz Instagram | TikTok | YouTube | Spotify

Randy Radic

Randy Radic is a former super model who succumbed to the ravages of time and age. Totally bereft of talent, he took up writing “because anyone can do it.” He smokes cigars (a disgusting habit) and has pet snakes (which is just gross). And some people say he’s aloof.

Randy Radic
Randy Radic is a former super model who succumbed to the ravages of time and age. Totally bereft of talent, he took up writing “because anyone can do it.” He smokes cigars (a disgusting habit) and has pet snakes (which is just gross). And some people say he’s aloof.
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