Top positive review
Beautifully crafted album
on 23 December 2014
I felt I should do a quick review to correct an impression created by a number of reviewers of this CD. Somebody has (mistakenly) referred to this as a fusion of flamenco and Irish traditional music and a number of later reviewers have repeated the same assertion. In the absence of my Scottish pals defending themselves I will point out that of the 4 major traditional players backing the legendary Amigo, 3 are Scots and the 4th (Mike McGoldrick) plays with the Scottish group Capercaillie. So where this Irish label came from I'm not quite sure ?
Back to the album itself. I totally concur with the overall 5 star rating as this makes for superb listening. Amigo who is one of the finest flamenco guitarists of the last 20 years has also shown the ability and desire to broaden his musical horizons. Witness the orchestral "Poeta" CD as a case in point. He has an effortless style and has never sounded more musical than on this release. There is a pattern or format running throughout the album. The Spaniard has written all the tunes on the disc and a handful of these feature vocals (in Spanish). Most of the tunes start with guitar, and handclaps or brushstrokes on the drums provide the percussion. The fiddle, accordion and flute then enter in the background providing a chordal support. Amigo then takes a break and the "Cetic" players develop their chordal structures into simple melodies which pick up perfectly on the established rhythm. Only a couple of these are traditional melodies.
Vicente has dabbled in this crossover style before as he featured on a CD released by Galician piper Carlos Nunez a number of years ago and no doubt would have jammed with some of the top Irish musicians who featured on that CD ("Os Amores"). He cannot have helped but to notice the improvisational skills inherent in the best irish and Scottish instrumentalists. His supporting cast of musicians on this release include members of the house band on "The TransAtlantic Sessions" This is an inspired selection including as it does Mike McGoldrick, John McCusker, Donald Shaw and Ewen Vernal. All of these, save McCusker are members of Capercaillie. The first three are superlative performers who can literally play in any style and who are all music composers in their own right. I'm reasonably confident that Amigo gave them free reign to add either traditional tunes or to improvise their own melodies to add to his constructions.
So this is a mainly instrumental album of superb guitar playing featuring the lyrical rather than the dramatic side of flamenco. It utilises the unusual tonal colours of Celtic traditional instruments including uileann (Irish) pipes. This is especially evident on the title track and the following track "Bolero". Track 6 sounds like an Irish slow air is about to emerge but the chords come straight from Andalucia. "Cancion de Laura" is the 3rd vocal track on the programme and has a lovely rhythmic flow. It is but one of many highlights and has a lovely Celtic melody running counterpoint to the flamenco structure towards the end of the track.
All the instrumentalists emerge with enhanced reputations because of the successful combination of such unlikely styles. In my opinion "Tierra" is one of the best acoustic album releases of the last 5 years !