27 October 2008

Monday's mp3: Buika Uncovered

CD REVIEW
Buika: Nina de Fuego
Warner Music Spain

It's a disservice to Buika that she appears half-naked on the cover of this CD, like some tawdry aspiring pop star. From the first note she sings on her sophomore album, her breathy voice evokes the bittersweet nature of life with a maturity that is belied by that photo.

The Spanish-only liner notes may leave some holes in the monoglot's understanding of the lyrics, but perfectly clear is Buika's craft in creating a tasty album with courses including traditional Spanish fare (coplas, flamenco, gypsy rumba) along with a jazz/torch sensibility and a sprinkling of Afro-Cuban spice. She also spent a couple years in Las Vegas, sometimes doing Tina Turner and Diana Ross impersonations. But, she says, "Las Vegas is not like a normal city. There is no humanity there."

A little digging reveals that Concha Buika was born in Equatorial Guinea, and grew up near a Gypsy community on the island of Mallorca. As for her defiance of musical genres, she says "“I don’t know what is flamenco or what is blues or jazz or rock. I only know what is singing and playing. For me the flamenco of [Mexican singer] Chavela Vargas is the same as Dinah Washington. It’s music that comes from the depths, from the place where everything pure comes from. For me [musical] styles seem like little dictators.”

The reality is so much more than the CD's cover can convey, since Buika's voice and musical choices convey a bare emotional richness much more engaging, enticing, and satisfying than any titillating photograph.

[mp3] Buika: Culpa Mía
from the album Nina de Fuego

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