California Sounds: Maria del Pilar sings of dreamers, Masego ponders older women and Cher revisits ABBA

Maria del Pilar
(Jeaneen Lund)

María del Pilar, “Original Dreamers” (María del Pilar/Casete). Taken from the follow-up to her 2015 album “Songs + Canciones I,” Del Pilar’s first single from Volume 2 is dedicated to her late mother, who braved an uncertain future when she and Del Pilar’s father decided to immigrate to America.

Referring to the stories of challenges facing immigrants in the country under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, she explains in release notes that the accounts “reminded me of what I saw my parents go through when I was a kid immigrating from Chile to the US. I had a chance to thank my father for these sacrifices but never got a chance to thank my mom.”

Hence “Original Dreamers,” in which the singer, who first earned national attention as singer-guitarist of L.A. punk band Los Abandoned, commands that we “look at all the dreamers like us — without shame they say their names.”


It’s so musically infectious that Del Pilar could be singing about road construction and it’d still work, with a rhythm that suggests New York post-disco and classic dance pop, but woven with a silken contemporary sheen. Produced by Filip Nikolic (Poolside), the track is driven by guitar from Carlos Arevalo of Chicano Batman. “Canciones + Songs II” arrives on Nov. 2.

Masego, “Old Age feat. SiR” (EQT Recordings). The Kingston, Jamaica-born artist who performs as Masego recently relocated to Los Angeles, and by way of introduction he’s issued a kind of musical personal ad: “I need me a sugar mama, old lady, foxy mama, sophisticated,” sings the young charmer, explaining that “age ain’t nothing but a number.” In L.A., he’s come to the right place.

Best known for his work with producer Goldlink, Masego earned attention through an improvised session for Red Bull, in which he and fellow multi-instrumentalist FKJ craft an on-the-spot rendering of “Tadow.” It’s since been viewed more than 45 million times.


The artist, who was born Micah Davis, has even claimed his own genre, combining hip-hop, dance and jazz elements into what he calls “traphousejazz.” His main inspiration, according to pre-release notes? The 1930s era bandleader Cab Calloway.

Based in North Hollywood, Masego’s earning his West Coast credits. The title track from his forthcoming full-length album, “Lady Lady” (Sept. 7), was produced by Sounwave, the Top Dawg Entertainment-affiliated beat-maker best known for his work with Kendrick Lamar. “Old Age” features vocal help from Top Dawg’s R&B singer SiR.

They combine to celebrate the older woman, and even if Masego doesn’t offer the most enlightened reasons for his bias against women his own age — “If you cant cook me a plate/After we mate/That ain’t [a] date” -- he seems at least honest about his desire for a high-class, and unplugged, woman. “Young gal, she don’t get my jokes or my references/Old Lady she ain’t with the tech or the messages” are two other reasons he cites. Love? That’s never mentioned.

Cher, “S.O.S.” (Warner Bros.). If history is any guide, Cher would squish Masego like a bug. The seemingly unstoppable artist, who was born Cherilyn Sarkisian in the Southern California town of El Centro, has reigned over Los Angeles popular music for a half century. She returns to the spotlight in service of “Dancing Queen,” her tribute album to the music of Swedish pop superstars ABBA, which comes out Sept. 28.

Who in her right mind covers ABBA? Those songs are as irrepressible as our Cher is. But perhaps that’s the answer: like Wonder Woman teaming up with the Fantastic Four, the collision of two universes unleashes a supernatural force. (A less magical explanation: This is a cross-promotional tie-in for “Mamma Mia: Here We Go Again,” in which Cher appears and sings ABBA’s “Fernando.”)

Specifically, that energy arrives through longtime Cher collaborator Mark Taylor, who helped redefine the artist’s musical image with her global smash “Believe.” She and Taylor ease in to the song, teasing with restraint the dance floor crowd for which her music is made: “Where are those happy days -- they seem so hard to find/I tried to reach for you but you have closed your mind.” Desperate, she looks back: “It used to be so nice, it used to be so good.”

Then, after a few measures of synthetic keyboard squiggle, the arrival of that climactic chorus and a marathon of bass-heavy uptempo EDM beats kick in: “So when you’re near me, darling, can’t you hear me — S. O. S.!” Will this appeal to the “I Got You Babe” set? Perhaps not. But we should know by know that Cher cares little what we mortals think.


For tips, records, snapshots and stories on Los Angeles music culture, follow Randall Roberts on Twitter and Instagram: @liledit. Email:

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