Words by Chris Moss
Marta Gómez is Colombian, sounds Brazilian, quotes the poetry of Spain’s Federico García Lorca, has shared a stage with blues-rocker Bonnie Raitt and performed on an album with Kris Kristofferson. Subtitled Songs With Latin American Soul, this 17-track collection features an impressive variety of quite beautiful songs. These are all her own creations, aided by a small band of versatile backing musicians. ‘Almita Mia’, dedicated to Gómez’s grandfather, has the power and fragility of a Mercedes Sosa song (with whom she has also shared the bill): a Colombian bambuco, it has a waltz beat but has been turned here into a lullaby by a sweet, soaring flute. Sosa’s influence surfaces elsewhere but is always given a fresh twist by Gómez in the shape of a harmonised chorus or simply by her higher, brighter vocals.
When Gómez turns to ballads, she runs the risk of losing listeners who prefer the rootsy material. But these songs are a rare example of a home-grown crossover that works: Latin America loves its romantic numbers and when a talent such as this lets her feelings go, the results verge on the sublime. Marta Gómez is a serious singer-songwriter, but she is also a gifted, instinctive performer. This album is a treat and might well be a revelation to European audiences.