With a mother who’s a singer and a father who’s a professor of art and a film director, the performing arts were a natural choice for this Mexican artist (and anthropologist) who never misses a chance to champion her country’s cultural heritage. Downs does so once again on her latest studio album (her ninth), which she recorded with some distinguished guests, including Colombian musician Juanes. The songs on Balas y chocolate cast their keen gaze towards an America that, despite social conflicts and disenchantment, still clings to its hopes and dreams. These are the ‘bullets’ and ‘chocolate’ alluded to in the title, symbolising, on the one hand, violence and, on the other, pleasure and excess, signs of the times we live in. Dedicated to the Day of the Dead, Mexico’s most popular annual celebration, when singing and dancing fuses melancholy and joy, the album features rhythms ranging from bolero and cumbia to hip hop and ska.