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Carmen Cuesta: Toda Una Vida


Carmen Cuesta

Carmen Cuesta - Toda Una VidaThere is a quiet, almost invisible blue flame that burns brightly when Carmen Cuesta pronounces the words in the lyrics of her songs. She seems to relish each word as she breaks it down, with brilliant and svelte enunciation and then employing phrasing that is perfectly accented. She has the advantage, of course, of having a perfectly made instrument—her voice—which she “plays” with sublime control and quiet majesty on Toda Una Vida. Moreover, her interaction with the other instruments might be one-sided—such is the splendour of her voice—were it not for the spectacular second line: the magnificence of the guitars played by Chuck Loeb and on “Contigo aprendí,” the wonderful Antonio Serrano, whose chromatic harmonica is played with just as much bewitching grandeur and emotion, as if it were an extension of his own voice. But this is Carmen Cuesta’s recording from top to bottom. She even turns a Brasilian classic into a magical Spanish song (“Eu sei que vu te amar”). This is duende; that tortured almost too-much-to-bear emotion heard and felt in the here and now.

Carmen Cuesta is one of a kind. While there may be times when she recalls the great Elis Regina of Brasil and at other times even that other fine Brasilian chanteuse, Rosa Passos, Ms. Cuesta is ultimately her own woman; a singer of singular style and immense beauty. Make no mistake about it Ms. Cuesta can cut loose from this self-contained emotional percolator from which she delivers most of her music. By this it might be suggested that this is a pose that Ms. Cuesta adopts and it would also not be remiss to mention that there is nothing wrong with making a recording that is ponderous; almost brooding. This is a thoroughly enjoyable journey for the listener, even if it might have been a somewhat barbed one for the singer. In fact what endears the listener (and critic) to this music is that it is a captivating performance. Like Ms. Regina, who drew in her audiences into her sometimes tortured world, Ms. Cuesta makes her pain and her joy felt deep within the guts. Such is the brilliant charm of her voice and her delivery of the songs, which seem to take on another level of lyrical beauty.

But this is also Chuck Loeb’s record in many ways. His arrangements are almost agonizingly beautiful and his playing is beautiful as well. Mr. Loeb is one of those guitarists who can literally make a guitar speak and sing and weep and leap for joy. His ability to animate his instrument is rare and he truly shows this off on this recording, on which he appears to have played an important part. Mr. Loeb’s world, while it is a quiet one makes a subtle and beautiful noise. It is here that the guitarist seems to be wooing the vocalist. It is as if a romance is being played out in a hidden drama that plays itself out song, after song, after song. This is another reason why this recording is so captivating: that a subtle love story goes on under the skin of the music between guitarist and vocalist. It is for this and many other reasons that Toda Una Vida is undeniably one of the year’s best recordings so far.

Track List: Voy a apagar la luz; Quizás, Quizás, Quizás; Contigo aprendí; Eu sei que vu te amar; El Reloj; La puerta; El día que mi quieras; No te confundas; Dos gardenias; Como fue; Besame mucho; Toda una vida.

Personnel: Carmen Cuesta: vocals; Chuck Loeb: guitars, additional keyboards; José San Martín: drums, shakers; Antonio “Toño” Miguel: acoustic bass; Moisés P. Sánchez: piano, electric piano; Yuvisney Aguilar: percussion; Antonio Serrano: harmonica (3); Kike Perdomo: flute (2); Oli Rockberger: piano (12).

Label: Tweety Records | Release date: December 2013

Website: carmencuesta.com | Buy music on: amazon

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About Carmen Cuesta

Born in Madrid, Spain, Carmen grew up singing from a very early age. A member of the choirs in both church and school, she was often asked to be a soloist, as she displayed a natural gift for singing. At home, she took up the guitar, and self-taught by the age of fifteen, she began composing the lyrics and music to her own songs. Around this time, while playing and singing at a party with some friends, she met singer, and now journalist, Jos Martin, of the group “Somos”. Within a short period of time they began doing concerts as a duo, with Carmen presenting herself as a singer and composer in public for the first time. Shortly thereafter, while pursuing her degree in education at the University of Madrid, Carmen auditioned, and was asked to join the cast of the show “Godspell” in the role of Mary Magdalena. At the age of seventeen, she put her studies on hold to perform both in Madrid, and throughout the rest of Spain with this theater troupe.