Barbara Llanes en concert les 14 et 15 mars avec un programme inédit de chansons lyriques cubaines interprété par un duo piano. Elle est la principale chanteuse soliste de l’Opéra national de Cuba. Au centre des Arts de Enghien-Les-Bains (95)
The debut album by 30-year-old Telmary is an intriguing mixture of hip-hop and modernised forms of Afro-Cuban music. And that’s just for starters. The poetess from La Havana appears equally at ease in genres as disparate as Hispanic rock, jazz, timba, guaracha and flamenco. She only seems to trip up a little when revisiting some Sixties grooves in the songs “Mr. God” and “Ando”. For the rest, this is a highly enjoyable and catchy album that has rightfully put Telmary at the cusp of the new wave of artists from the Caribbean island.
The forthright singer does justice to her reputation as an audacious and combative lyricist who constantly challenges our imagination. “My flow goes easy as does my life”, she sings in “Fiesta”, and it certainly seems to, on the reading of the English translations of her songs. Be it homages to the pagan gods that people Cuba’s culture or the superb love song “Libre”, Telmary dips gracefully into her own life to conjure powerful images. “I have in you the dawn of my best day,” she tells her lover in “Libre”. “The cold morning heals the fruits brought by the breeze/ The smooth freedom of your smile.” All this is sung with a rare grace to an acoustic guitar accompaniment that somehow harmonises rap with intimate ballad singing. “It brings to mind some of the work of Isaac Hayes,” writes one critic, “except that this is rap, not R&B or soul music.”
At the heart of her work is a desire to modernise the time-honoured Afro-Cuban rhythms and beliefs in gods like Elegua. “I defend my roots, my ancestors, my beautiful Cuban music,” she writes, “and also my difficult yet learned island. I only want to tell everyone that music has no frontiers or languages.” In the past, Telmary has shared her elastic vision with some of Cuba’s most talented new artists, and some are backing her as she begins to fly with her own wings. This album is produced by two lynchpins from the Interactivo band, Carcassés and Yusa. “Risk takers and rule breakers all, they are part of a Cuban generation of enormous savvy and capability, living within restricted media,” writes critic Jan Fairley in the Songlines magazine. Telmary has broadened her vision out to begin exploring genres like flamenco. The song “Sueño Brujo” is with the Spanish collective Ojos de Brujo and while it has its limitations, it is an interesting attempt to harmonise flamenco with rap. Incidentally, it is set to some of the album’s most surrealistic lyrics, a plunge into one of Telmary’s dreams that “has started up motors, has caused pain.”
The album ends much in the same way that it began: a rare mix of an old toothless voice, Afro-Cuban percussions, timba and Telmary’s rapped poetry. The whole makes for a vibrant concoction that holds out promise for the future of this articulate and modest artist.
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