Words by Chris Moss
There’s a fine line between busting envelopes and not knowing where you’re going. At times Spanish singer-songwriter Amparo Sánchez seems to almost relish being directionless, but as the possessor of an ‘alma de cantaora’ – a genuine singer’s soul – she always manages to rescue the song. Sanchez hasn’t got a great range, but she has the presence and raw power to seem assured whether delivering a solitary diva’s turn or joining in a rousing chorus.
Plenty of guests share the songs with her, including Cuban singer Mane Ferret on the deliciously melodious ‘Vieja Pasión’ and Tucson alt-country rockers Calexico on the ghostly ‘Muchacho’ – both of whom also helped out on Amparo’s 2010 album Tucson-Habana. But Sánchez’s band deserve even more applause than any of the featured stars, as it’s their cool virtuosity that conjures the strange Tex-Mex Spanish sound that is a genuine one-off.
It would be easy to write Amparo Sánchez off as yet another purveyor of rootless fusion music, but her cleverest trick is to combine the Latin American political engagement and earth-mother spirituality of the lyrics with a wandering Spaniard’s gloomy scepticism and wit in the music. It’s a beguiling mix.
TRACK TO TRY: Vieja Pasión
(On Wrasse Records)