ALMA LATINA

Irene Farrer

A review for the Folk & Acoustic Music Exchange
by Robert J. Gottschalk

Selection titles:

This CD will change your mind about Latin/South American music--unless you are already a fan! This is a fabulous collection of the most lyrical and passionate music I have heard in a long time. Irene Farrer is a native of Venezuela and a master of styles that range from mellow, soft, romantic ballads to songs so moving you feel as though you are a participant in the revolutions of that part of the world. Irene sings only to you and for you--thus, the title: LATIN SPIRIT.

The first song LLENA DE TANTO (Filled With So Much), states the purpose of the album--singing a song with real breadth of spirit and experience. The intensity of expression of Irene is absolutely genuine. Her passion is unmistakable and comes from the elements she sings about. JOSE ANTONIO lets you relax for just a while--a supposedly light tale of a horse and trainer, but the song is chiseled more intensely than you can imagine.

LA MAZA (The Hammer) is my favorite. This song is the perfect blend of voice, lyrics and guitar. Alfredo Muro provides a musical voice equal to Irene's in presenting questions of opposites and complements--quarries and hammers, purity and convictions. Today, we continually ask "What if...?" as we try to find the relationships among our experiences. The final answer to all the "What if's" is the one who asks in the first place. The next three songs soften as we hear short tales of nature and dreams. Irene expresses hope and love, tempered with notions of insecurity--not everything will last forever.

Flamenco background and an accelerating pace give you one more burst of energy before the end of the CD. You can hear the wings of the bird beating to the rhythm of the song EL PAJARILLO (The Little Bird), just as you hear the wind in SEGUN EL FAVOR DEL VIENTO (According to the Will of the Wind). The final two selections are short ballads that resolve the tensions and answer the questions raised throughout the recording--EL DIA QUE ME QUIERAS and EU SEI QUE VOU TE AMAR (The Day That You Love and I Know That I Will Love You). These songs bring a mellow closure to this most compelling journey.

For fans of Irene's, the quality of this CD will come as no surprise. The balance of guitar and voice is exceptional. Technically, you can do no better. The guitar arrangements are performed flawlessly and complement rather than just supplement the vocals. Inclusion of Portuguese, as well as Spanish, lyrics intensify the experience of Irene's song selection and artistry. If you have not experienced this style of music, start here!

Copyright 1996, Three Rivers Folklife Society.
This review may be reprinted with prior written permission and attribution.

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