You can now declare Magos Herrera to be one of the greatest contemporary interpreters of song. Her consummate and sultry contralto is pitch-perfect and she has both the voice and the artistry to interpret traditional South American repertoire, which she sings in Spanish and Portuguese (as well as in English) here on this breathtakingly beautiful album, Dreamers. Why is this hour-long disc that feels like an epic such a triumph? Clearly it is first and foremost Miss Herrera’s atmospheric singing; moreover it is also the fact that she turns the elemental heartache of a whole generation of South American Dreamers into anthems that herald their journey away from social and political repression into the promise of freedom and the triumph of human endeavour in the United States. The fact that the American administration of 2018 is trying its best to destroy the dream makes these songs of longing all the more poignant, and who better than Miss Herrera to turn all this pain into joy sublimated in the smokiness of her vocal ardour?
Editor’s Pick · Featured Album · Magos Herrera & Brooklyn Rider: Dreamers
These are benchmark performances of classic music, brilliantly sung from end to end by Miss Herrera assisted with orchestral finesse by Brooklyn Rider, the string quartet comprising four esteemed New York chamber musicians each of whom turn in flawless performances in ensemble as well as through the occasional breakaway cadenza. Miss Herrera begins the recording with a superb original composition “Niña” that brings the plight of the children to light, their anguish assuming extraordinary proportions in the context of the recent brutal separation of children from the parents of asylum-seekers who entered the US from across its border with Mexico. Her English-language song “Dreams” is just as heartbreakingly beautiful as is the song “Tú y Yo”.
This extraordinary repertoire also includes works by such iconic composers as the legendary Chilean composer Violeta Parra, the Brasilians Caetano Veloso and Gilberto Gil, who were among the near-mythical creators of Música popular brasileira (MPB) that arose out of Bossa Nova during the Dictatorship of that country. Among the songs where Miss Herrera soars upwards towards a kind of metaphorical freedom are “Balderrama” by Gustavo “Cuchi” Leguizamón, the iconic Argentinean composer and “La Aurora de Nueva York” with lyrics from Federico García Lorca’s seminal work Poeta en Nueva York, the song’s beauty a confluence between Miss Herrera’s husky vocals and the powerful Flamenco harmonies by Miguel Poveda together with contributions from the incomparable Gonzalo Grau as well.
The disc ends with the near-wordless “Undiú” drenched in emotion with Miss Herrera at the height of her powers: haunting and profoundly brilliant. The timing of the release and the cumulatively stunning performance by Miss Herrera and Brooklyn Rider make this music (and the disc) something to absolutely die for, not the least because all of this music contains valuable messages for our or indeed any time, all of which is superlatively performed by one of the great modern singers of our time.
Track list – 1: Niña; 2: Balderrama; 3: Dreams; 4: De Manhã; 5: Volver a los 17; 6: Milonga Gris; 7: La Aurora de Nueva York; 8: Eu Vim Da Bahía; 9: Coração Vagabundo; 10: Tú y Yo; 11: La Llorona; 12: Luz de Luna; 13: Undiú
Personnel – Magos Herrera: vocals; Brooklyn Rider – Johnny Gandelsman: violin; Colin Jacobsen: violin; Nicholas Cords: viola; Michael Nicolas: cello. With Miguel Poveda: vocals (7); Mathias Kunzli: percussion (4, 6, 8, 9, 10); Gonzalo Grau: percussion (1, 3, 6, 7, 10, 11), Flamenco palmas and percussion (7); La Conja & Sol: Flamenco palmas (1); Edward Pérez: bass (10)
Released – 2018
Label – Sony Music (190758907123)
Runtime – 1:06:49