Lucid Culture

JAZZ, CLASSICAL MUSIC AND THE ARTS IN NEW YORK CITY

CD Review: Alex Cuba – Agua de Pozo

Feel-good story: guitarist/songwriter has to leave his native Cuba for Canada, where he makes it big (thanks in no small part to the CBC, no doubt: those Canadians really support their own!). Like a younger, more minimalist, carefree Juan-Carlos Formell, Cuba (real name: Alexis Puentes) draws on oldschool Cuban influences while adding his own, in this case 70s American black pop along with several others from around the Caribbean. The result is a sound that is uniquely his own. As with his music, his lyrics are terse: most of these songs are upbeat yet contemplative, driven by catchy choruses (lyrics in Spanish).

 

The opening track Amor Infinito is a brief excursion into tropicalia, like a Spanish language version of something Alice Lee might write. The vibe continues with the bouncy De Camino. The album’s strongest track, Lamento is a strikingly dark rock en Espanol number that wouldn’t be out of place on a Jaguares album. The title track, built on a classic oldschool two-chord salsa vamp, works perfectly with the electric guitar solos that Cuba substitutes for what would ordinarily be horn breaks. Then he goes ska, with more blazing electric guitar on the next track, Tu Boca lo Quita. Of the other tracks, Penita en la Cara is straight-up 70s disco; Vampiro channels Stevie Wonder at his early 70s psychedelic peak. There’s no reason why this album shouldn’t be all over Latin hit radio (who set the bar far higher than their Anglo counterparts), and Cuba has picked up a big following with the English-speaking world music crowd. Like the well water the album takes its title from, this is a cool, refreshing and very auspicious debut.

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June 27, 2008 - Posted by | Music, Reviews

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