Cranky Crow World Music, CD Review >>
MARIANA MONTALVO--I first discovered Chilean chanteuse Mariana Montalvo when I picked up her Putumayo release, Cantos del Alma up a the library a couple of years ago. Mariana's collection of songs came off as effervescent and brimming with images of South America and unforgettable stories. Although the CD was several years old before I caught up with it, I reviewed it for World Music Central and hoped that Mariana would release a new CD in the near future. I was pleasantly surprised to learn of Mariana's 2004 World Village release, Piel de aceituna (Olive Skinned) and to hear another collection of effervescent songs, this time marrying French cafè with South American folkloric traditions. And of course, you will find songs that resemble a Mexican ranchero (Hurt That Kills) and another song that incorporates reggae rhythms with Andean pan pipes, (South America). Also worth noting are the duets, The Meeting with Congolese Lokua Kanza and I Know the Blue Lagoon with Mario Contreras, a musician that also contributes guitars, frame drum, and backup vocals to the disc.
It's hard for me to believe that Mariana is still considered a relative newcomer to North American audiences since I believe that she deserves as much recognition as Susana Baca, Mercedes Sosa, (two artists that Putumayo compares Mariana) and other renowned Latin American women vocalists. However, it is possible that with her newest CD and her inclusion in the Putumayo Latinas tour that Mariana will win the hearts of North Americans. Similar to her previous release, Cantos del Alma, Piel de aceituna, a collection of nueva canciòn meets Parisian cafè society aims to delight its listeners. Soulful vocals rise and fall gently in each song and lush musical arrangements compliments of arranger Matias Pizarro and performed by a long list of talented musicians just can't go wrong by anyone's standards. Various traditional instruments of the Americas, (tres, cautro, charango, Mexican bass, quena (end-blown flute) and pan pipes perform along side accordion, strings, guitar, trumpet, trombone (check out the celebratory carnivalisque titular track), and percussion.
Mariana fled from Chile in 1974 when Augusto Pinochet took power in a military coup. Mariana fled to Paris, but has retained her Chilean musical heritage which can be heard in her musical arrangements and her choice of poetry that graces her albums. Parisian influences of course do seep in even if they too are translated to Spanish language and Latin America musical sensibility. For instance, Mariana covered and adapted French filmmaker-songwriter Serge Gainsbourg's Couleur Cafè on Cantos del Alma and once again, she brings in a French-language icon, Jacques Brel this time to her latest CD by adapting his classic, The Lovers' Song into Spanish while never losing the song's somber French sentiments. The songs on the CD range in moods from melancholic laments to feisty up-tempo songs. My conclusion is that if this CD doesn't garner a solid North American following for Mariana, then something is truly wrong with this world. Hopefully, Mariana receives the recognition she so rightfully deserves. World Village
-- Patty-Lynne Herlevi 11/20/04 >> go there