There’s a delightful playfulness in the words and music of Juan Wauters. Over three albums and a handful of singles, the Uruguayan-born singer for the Queens-based band The Beets wrote wistful and wryly observed songs set to a primitively played folk-meets-garage punk. Now, Wauters is striking out on his own with his solo debut, N.A.P. — North American Poetry, a record that feels just as raw and D.I.Y. in spirit as those Beets albums, but trades some of that fun, sloppy attitude for sweet folk tunes and an exposed voice.
Throughout N.A.P., Wauters sings primarily in English with snippets of Spanish casually tossed in, the way it might conversationally with a bilingual friend. Yet, like he did with the occasional Beets song, Wauters sings entirely in Spanish on “Ay Ay Ay” and the simple, slack-stringed acoustic track “Escucho Mucho.”
Wauters moved to New York in 2002 to live and work in a factory with his father in order to save enough to bring the rest of his family to the U.S. To cope with the initial isolation he felt, he turned to music. And with “Escucho Mucho” (or “I hear a lot”) Wauters addresses that anger and feeling of alienation as he overhears people around him. And even if you cannot understand what he’s singing without the aid of Google — or a very patient friend willing to help translate — based on his clever rhyme schemes alone, it’s clear Wauters’ songwriting is as idiosyncratic and introspective as ever.