Words by Chris Moss
In setting the work of 11th-century Andalusian Sephardic poet Solomon Ibn Gabirol to music, the singer and academic Curro Piñana is shrewdly tapping one of the many deep wells of influence that have enriched flamenco in its long journey across territories and time. He is also extending flamenco’s religious source material, which have hitherto typically adhered to Roman Catholic sources, such as the writings of the mystic Saint John of the Cross. Musically, this album is a masterstroke, skillfully melding Piñana’s soulful, mellow vocals with minimalist poems (adapted from the Hebrew originals by Antonio Parra) that evoke powerful existential dramas. One deals with a man sick with love in his ‘alma lastimada’ (wounded soul), and Jewish exiles escaping through the mountains under starry skies. Thoughtfully, English translations have been included in the liner notes. Piñana brings a luminosity to the darkest of lamentations, and three able guitarists and two backing singers further amplify the emotional appeal of this well-crafted, original album.