In 2010, Carla Morrison released “Compartir,” a sentimental love ballad expressing the yearn and angst of wanting to share life with someone who is far away, on her debut EP, Mientras Tú Dormías. The breakthrough single proved to be a popular dedication among first loves and engaged couples and helped the Mexican singer-songwriter establish herself among a rare class of young artists whose voice is truly their instrument. Morrison’s vocals stretch and bend words; her voice is delicate yet strong, and moves with ease between a vulnerable croon and the wail of hurt.
Morrison’s music continued to serve as grounds for exploration in love, desire, joy, and heartbreak. In 2012, she belted Dejenme Llorar, and in 2015 came the album Amor Supremo. The latter, for me, is the culmination of a bright career in music and the clearest expression of Morrison’s lyrical gifts. On this record, she feels the blues, using her past experiences in romance as personal agency and reinforcement. But for every moment of sadness or hopelessness, she emotes some internal resolve.
A record as ambitious in name and content, Amor Supremo felt like a precursor to the big times — and it was. She performed at Coachella, shared a bill with rock giants Enjambre at Mexico City’s Palacio de los Deportes, headlined the city’s famous Auditorio Nacional, opened tours from Spain to Latin America, and executed a sold-out stretch of U.S. dates. Her success snowballed — and then, almost overnight, Morrison appeared to have walked away entirely from music, leaving fans with a discography of elite Spanish-language sad-girl songs and a lingering question mark.
“Music was my refuge and that was no longer a safe space.”
“I remember when we had our last show in 2017 and getting excited that the show was actually canceled because of the rain. I thought, let it get canceled, man. I’m fucking tired. I want to go home,” the 35-year-old tells Refinery 29 Somos over Zoom. “I was just super tired. And I remember feeling like this sucks and why am I thinking this way? This isn’t normal.”
In the middle of her success, Morrison paused everything and began to question not just her purpose, but her very existence. “I would find myself thinking often that I wanted to die. Being a highly sensitive person, it was just overwhelming,” she continues. “My thoughts just got very dark after that. I was very suicidal believing that nobody appreciated or cared about me.”
Where Morrison’s inner voice once guided her to life’s most promising steps, she was now grappling with what she was hearing. “I was living to meet everybody else’s expectations, but not mine,” she recalls. “I didn’t even have a personal life. I didn’t have any hobbies. Music was my refuge and that was no longer a safe space.”
In a collapsed mental and emotional state, Morrison relocated to Paris with her husband, and it proved to be both necessary and humbling. “I had to find a place where I really had to start from zero. That challenged me to spend time with and rely only on myself to build a solid relationship with self-worth and autonomy,” she says.
She had to die to be reborn, a revival she sings about in her new studio project El Renacimiento. “Desperté un día sin sentir ganas de querer seguir, algo ya me hundía en mi cama,” she hums the intro, painting a picture of sheer despair before reaching her crescendo and the definitive ethos for the whole project. “La guerra dentro de mí, reclamaba fuerte en mí, fue la voz de mi alma.” Her focus track, “Diamantes,” is where Morrison’s internal warrior shines bright and where she serenades a love letter to herself. “I had to look inside and recognize the diamonds that lived in me and not just in a photo,” she professes. Throughout the album, she maintains the ethereal sound day-one fans will feel at home with, drawing in newcomers with more pop records like “Ansiedad.”
Because she had to study French in Paris and knew no one in the European city, Morrison spent a lot of her time in silence, putting the pieces of her life back together again. Taking jazz singing classes at a music conservatory helped shape the improvisation techniques central to her vocals on new material. Trips to museums around the City of Lights were critical periods of personal inventory. This season of study and childlike exploration ultimately became instrumental in Morrison’s newfound self-image and self-love. The invite to lay down a galactic opening to J. Balvin’s 2018 Vibras, and surprise opportunities to collaborate with Ricky Martin on his recent “Recuerdo,” emboldened Morrison’s instincts to explore deeper with her artistry. “I’ve learned to accept that life sometimes is supposed to be hard,” she expresses knowingly. “My attitude toward myself and the patience I have reserved for myself is what has changed.”
“I love that I’m singing differently, I’m writing differently, I’m expressing differently. I’m just doing everything different now.”
Nearly seven years after her last project, an ongoing global pandemic, and a journey toward healing later, Morrison is reintroducing herself with El Renacimiento. “I call this a rebirth because I had to die things in my life to be able to come alive again — this time, on my own terms,” she says. In 2021, she returned with “No Me Llames,” “Obra de Arte,” and “Contigo,” all of which live on the new album, due April 29 via her longtime indie label Cosmica.
“‘Encontrarme’ is one of the songs that I feel I want to make into a whole album,” she says of the LP’s final cut. “Because I feel like it captures who I am today. I love that I’m singing differently, I’m writing differently, I’m expressing differently. I’m just doing everything different now.”
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