Singer-songwriter Julieta Venegas, one of Mexico's most internationally visible artists, has been profoundly affected by the wave of drug-related violence that has swept her homeland in recent years and drew on those emotions for her latest album, "Los momentos" (The Moments).
"I always write from an emotional point of view and what's happened in recent years has had an impact on me. So I have to express it," the artist told reporters in this capital.
"Suddenly, Mexico's a different place, much more violent, where we see a very different side to people, where I feel the need to join with others and say the ordeal we're going through is different when we go through it together," the 42-year-old winner of five Latin Grammys and one Grammy award said.
An estimated 70,000 people were killed in drug-related violence in Mexico during the 2006-2012 tenure of former Mexican President Felipe Calderon, who deployed thousands of army soldiers and Federal Police officers across the country to fight drug cartels.
Venegas said she had no desire to include frivolous or romantic tracks on "Los momentos," which was released on Tuesday,
The artist said fear has become "another element in everyone's lives" and must be combated. "We can't let that be what defines our days" but rather we have to "use it so it pushes you to be better, to improve the world around you, to look for answers."
The artist seeks to exorcise that fear with songs like "Vuelve" (Return), which she was inspired to write after a Spanish friend who had been invited to perform in the northern city of Monterrey asked her if it was safe to go.
Maternity is also a theme on the new album.
"Having a child changes a lot in terms of what you want to say," Venegas, who gave birth to a daughter in August 2010, said.
She said the end result of this mixture of emotions and personal situations is an album that is "not as happy" as other works such as "Si" (Yes) or "Limon y sal" (Lemon and Salt), her best-selling album to date.
The mood is much more "melancholy," but rather than a defeated melancholy the songs examine how to keep forging ahead, Venegas added.