It is the vivacity of Rebeca Vallejo that is evident from the first lines that she sings on Azucar Canela, a refreshing foray into the idioms of Spanish—that is, Flamenco—Latin American and jazz. It is hard to imagine a musician fitting all of this into one song sometimes, let alone a larger programme. But Ms. Vallejo seems to have mastered the inflections of each and is at ease as she flits (for that is the right word) from one to the other, or sometimes in the twists and turns of her voice, fits it all into a Flamenco-Latin-Jazz stream of consciousness with her astounding voice. This is a good place to start and then to follow the vocal exploits of Rebeca Vallejo. With a warm, almost sensuously steaming and beckoning personality, Ms. Vallejo captivates the heart and leaves a searing impression on the soul sometimes. It is hard to imagine someone so relatively unknown and who seems to come from left field to make such a dramatic assault on the senses. But Ms. Vallejo has a secret and now that secret is out:
Rebeca Vallejo is schooled in the same dark arts as many Flamenco singers, who use duende to captivate their audiences. This is clearly a Spanish thing. Ms. Vallejo makes the heart of the song that she is singing first penetrate soul, which it turns inside out before setting the mind at rest. This is at the heart of duende. It is that elemental magic that destroys the calm and tranquility of the soul, wrenching at it with such force that it turns the soul inside out and creates such turmoil that nothing is the same in that being anymore. Poets in Spain did that to their audiences and this is what Ms. Vallejo does to hers. She turns lyrics into sharp daggers as she enunciates the words, stretching them as if they were malleable and ductile. Then she aims them like arrows directly at the heart and the soul, cutting these to shreds. Magically she makes these whole again as she pours emollients at the end of each song into the body to mend its broken pieces back together again. This is at the heart of Ms. Vallejo’s artistry and may be heard at great risk to the calmness of the soul, on “Sin Piedad” and “Los Pilares De La Tierra.”
This record is remarkable for another aspect of its production: Most songs have just two instruments backing up the singer. How then do these charts sound as if there were many more? The secret is in the performances of the musicians. George Dulin and Emilio Solla are pianists who deserve much wider recognition in the same manner that that other magical Spaniard, Dorantes, does. And the percussionists—several of whom excel on the cajón—make all the difference to the rhythmic intensity of the recording. Zé Mauricio’s dramatic turn on “Lullaby” is a fabulous addition to the personnel list. The percussionist has tonnes of talent and it is only a matter of time before the Brasilian breaks through with a recording all to himself. For now, however, this is Rebeca Vallejo’s breakthrough. And it is one that is likely to stay in the memory for a long time to come.
Track List: El Ciego Sol; No Sabes; Despertar; Cravo E Canela; Canicas; Azúcar, Canela; Los Pilares De La Tierra; Sin Piedad; Verde Sobre Azul; Lullaby; Bonus Track 1 – El Hit (Reloaded); Bonus Track 2 – Verde Sobre Azul (After Hours).
Personnel: Rebeca Vallejo: voice, finger-snapping, body percussion; George Dulin: piano; David Silliman: drums, percussion; Emilio Solla: piano (2, 9); Jose Antonio Montaña: cajón, palmas, jaleos (3, 4); Rob Curto: accordion (3); Auxi Fernández: palmas, jaleos (3, 4); Ariadna Castellanos: piano (4), Zé Mauricio: pandeiro (10); Yayo Serka: cajón (9).
Label: World Music Boutique | Release date: October 2013
About Rebeca Vallejo
Madrid born vocalist and composer Rebeca Vallejo is a most versatile and innovative performer. Known for combining her ancestral Flamenco roots, her deep love and understanding of Brazilian music, with the language of Jazz, Rebeca Vallejo deftly weaves all these elements into a sound that is truly unique. Read more…