María José Llergo, one of the most intriguing new acts in Spain's on the rise flamenco scene, remarkably nurtures her dainty, nearly transcendental vocals in this enchanting debut record. A fascinating opening chapter, one that her dedicated fans have been awaiting for years. For those unaware, I can very much sum up Maria's profoundly angelic voice as...a delicate pot of melted gold. Very much prestigious and valuable, but can be consumed and interpreted in different ways, warranting different results. Try to preserve its purity or luxury, and you'll be astounded by its natural beauty and intricacies as you glaze upon it. Attempt to taste it, and you'll be met with disappointment and disgust cause of its clearly tasteless, insipid properties.
I guess the point I'm trying to make out of this analogy is Maria's voice is evidently filled with natural passion and talent, something you can clearly admire from a distance, but rather difficult to get used to up close for listeners who may be seeking instant gratification. Maria's innate, overpowering vocal performances can easily come off as mildly displeasing, I know cause that was my initial reaction, and it took a bit of backbone to get used to. But overcoming these boundaries, I find myself consistently astounded by such qualities, qualities that are immensely displayed over the course of the brief, but finely patience-testing 27-minute runtime.
In addition, the record's overall inventiveness, meditatively inviting atmosphere, touching lyricism (in spite of the language barrier) and distinctive direction very much holds a candle to the album's significantly empowering performances! Even though much of the record revolves around the sheer raw power of Maria's voice, I am equally stunned by the creatively mastered blends of flamenco pop, folk, drone, even some elements of modern classical. Whether it's the softly acoustic, folk-esque "Niña de las dunas", an older track that thankfully made the cut as it brings a lot of intimate elements in context with this album, or the stimulating, chillingly dense "El hombre de las mil lunas", or the tension-building send-off for the album featuring fruitful flamenco harmonies "El péndulo" and "Me miras pero no me ves". This debut certainly offers a lot to fully absorb, and I think Maria's immaculate chemistry with many of these musical passages is a testament to her great artistic potential.
My hopes is that I'll be hearing a lot from Maria more often as the decade progresses, would love to see where she takes her attractively ambitious sound and what elements she'll choose to embellish with ensuing projects.
FAV TRACKS: Niña de las dunas, El hombre de las mil lunas, Nana del Mediterráneo, El péndulo, Me miras pero no me ves
LEAST FAV TRACK: Soy como el oro