No matter how much a man strives to experience joy in its purest form, he can only do so vicariously because he will never know what it means to bear pain like a woman does. It is almost always the ‘Eve’ that much-maligned Biblical villain who experiences – and therefore expresses – emotions in their purest form. If you approach the music of Eliana Cuevas – especially the music of Golpes y Flores – from this perspective you will be able to best experience this in Miss Cuevas’ fulfilling life first and foremost as a self-fulfilled mother and woman and following from all that as: a natural born musician and singer who has completely absorbed her art, expressing it with visceral excitement in all the colours and textures, the passion and polyrhythms of Venezuela.
What marks this music as unique is in the almost aria-like vocals with vibrant Afro-Venezuelan percussion, a poignant supplication of fervent intensity where Eliana Cuevas brings both tenderness and expressive depth to the music. The broad sweeping gestures of “Alegria” call the great Colombian Totó La Momposina to mind, as does “Despierta” call Conny Méndez to mind, but as ever, both pieces are quintessentially Eliana Cuevas; sweetly scented floribundas both, delivered in fragrant, light-filled, warmly communicative soprano – as irresistible as ever. Hardly less so is the dedicatory “Mi Linda Marta”, a vernal masterpiece with affective ornaments conveyed with a beguiling youthful innocence.
On this disc Golpes y Flores Eliana Cuevas is joined – again – by her husband living vicariously as only he can and doing a great job of shaping the sound not only on piano and a plethora of keyboards, but also chipping in with all of the arrangements. Jeremy Ledbetter is a great listener and therefore is able to convey all of the big-ness of Miss Cuevas’ music. He is probably also first to hear her songs as Miss Cuevas gives birth to them, naked save for their raw emotion guided by her crystalline, bell-like voice with an appealing gleam at the top of a rather dynamic range. Thus when this happens, his dazzling asides pierce her mindstream like bolts of pure sunshine. And as Miss Cuevas supplies the requisite emotional density, Mr Ledbetter’s playing is fluid and beautifully controlled. “No Se Puede” is a classic example of this in its completed form.
This is the fifth record for Eliana Cuevas. It is also her most lusciously produced with extraordinary performances by the likes of Rich Brown, Gustavo Márquez and George Koller on bass, Mark Kelso on drums, Daniel Stone and three brilliant other Afro-Venezuelan percussionists, Jonathan “Morocho” Gavidia, Javier Suárez and Juan Carlos Segovia on seven of the ten tracks. Also featured is the celebrated musician and cuatro player Aquiles Báez on two songs and an extraordinary multi-instrumentalist (watch out for this burgeoning talent) Marito Marques on kalimba on “Alegria”, the explosive opening song on this unforgettable recording by the ineffably beautiful musician, Eliana Cuevas.
Track list – 1: Alegría; 2: Te Encontraré; 3: Seré Libre; 4: El Manantial; 5: A Tear On The Ground; 6: Poderosa; 7: Despierta; 8: Nunca Jamás; 9: Mi Linda Maíta; 10: No Se Puede
Personnel – Eliana Cuevas: lead and background vocals; Jeremy Ledbetter: piano, keyboards, Fender Rhodes, background vocals and percussion; Mark Kelso: drums and percussion (1 – 3, 5, 7, 10); Rich Brown: bass (1 – 3, 5, 7, 10); George Koller: bass (8, 9); Daniel Stone: percussion (6, 10); Aquiles Báez: guitar, cuatro (6, 9); Adolfo Herrera: drums (6, 9); Gustavo Márquez: bass (6); Aleksander Gajic: violin (8, 9), viola (8); Peter Cosbey: cello (8); Aysel Taghi: violin (9); Vedran Curic: viola (9); Jonathan Tortolano: cello (9); Marcus Ali: tenor and alto saxophone (6); Alexis Baró: trumpet (6); Luis Deniz: alto saxophone (7); Marito Marques: kalimba (1); Jonathan “Morocho” Gavidia: afro-Venezuelan percussion (1, 3 – 5, 7, 8); Javier Suárez: Afro-Venezuelan percussion (1, 3 – 5, 7, 8); Juan Carlos Segovia: Afro-Venezuelan percussion (1, 3, 5)
Released – 2017
Label – Alma Records
Runtime – 44:23
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