Four years have brought with them two CD revelations about one of the finest young musicians to come from South America who has yet to be widely celebrated as such. In 2016 Camila Meza released Traces (Sunnyside), but nothing whatsoever could have prepared the listener for what has ensued in 2019 in the form of the repertoire on Ámbar, which draws one into the prodigious composer, guitarist and vocalist’s world, one that echoes with the delicate sound of her plaintive, lyrical, aria-like vocalastics accompanied by the often evocative lines unfolding from the enormously expressive palette of her guitar, all of this surrounding the peerless architecture of her sometimes-anguished, but always eloquent and beautiful music.
Miss Meza’s outstanding repertoire is based on a mixture of folk wisdom and sophisticated poetic conceits, celebrating the natural world of her humanity and its regenerative powers in the face of frustrations and doubts, expectations and hopes. Each song begins arrestingly – the first sounds we hear are usually that of her guitar, or the piano almost immediately followed by the string quartet; all of which heralds the entry of her mystical voice that leaps and swoops in the upper soprano range, acquiring great emotional weight as it develops with each song. All of this puts us listeners in touch with our inner beings immediately capturing Miss Meza’s intended metaphor in her use of the imagery – scientific and concrete as well as emotional and mystical – of the wonders of amber.
The vocalist in Miss Meza trades places with the guitarist often and with magical results. While she evokes the aura of a lyric soprano with her extraordinary vocals, Miss Meza joins the ranks of the rising pantheon of young virtuoso guitarists. Her vocal instrument is gorgeous; lustrous and feather-light and she is absolutely sublime on songs such as “Kallfu”, “This is not America”, “Olha Maria and Milagre Dos Peixes”. Hardly far behind are the melodic inventions of her soli on various songs and she often sings the notes of her soli gently, in accompaniment with the improvised leaps. It’s a device that while not new, Miss Meza delivers these innovative harmonics in a manner that makes them feel surprising and wholly new. The Nectar Orchestra’s accompaniment is also pitch perfect, delivering harmonic messages that are beautifully aligned with the leading melodies.
Pianist Eden Ladin, bassist Noam Wiesenberg, and drummer and percussion colourist Keita Ogawa from the core of the Orchestra embellished by an exquisite string quartet are all perfectly attuned with Miss Meza’s artistry and vision. Individually and collectively the musicians match their leader’s lyricism with a vibrancy that is bright, spirited and impeccably uplifting. And by the time one gets to the most exquisitely tender versions of the classic “Cucurrucucú Paloma” one becomes completely beguiled by Miss Meza; not that one wasn’t from the opening bars of “Kallfu”, of course… This is truly an album to die for.
Track list – 1: Kallfu; 2: Waltz #1; 3: Awaken; 4: This is Not America; 5: Olha Maria; 6: Atardecer; 7: All Your Colors; 8: Milagre dos Peixes; 9: Interlude; 10: Ámbar; 11: Fall; 12: Cucurrucucú Paloma
Personnel – Camila Meza: vocal, guitar, arrangements and compositions (1, 3, 6, 7, 10, 11); Eden Ladin: piano, juno, celesta, keyboards and arranger(4, 7); Noam Wiesenberg: bass, arrangements, string arrangements and composition (9); Keita Ogawa: drums and percussion; Tomoko Omura: violin; Fung Chern Hwei: violin; Benjamin von Gutzeit: viola; Brian Sanders: cello
Released – 2019
Label – Sony Masterworks (19075877572)
Runtime – 56:20