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Reviews Leoni Torres. Photo: Courtesy of the artist. Leoni Torres. Photo: Courtesy of the artist.

Cuban soul / Leoni Torres

One day Leoni Torres got up and looked back at the past of her musical career and said: "Okay, I want to do something different." That day must have been Sunday, because Sundays are the calmest and most reflective days of the week, and in Leoni Torres's head there must have been some bolero son or a montuno chill-if that's possible-; something “calm” with certain flourishes of the tres, the güiro, some maracas here and there, some congas. That day, he, a cautious artist, focused on his work reaching large audiences, decided to launch himself and mess with traditional music. In addition to the risk —especially because of the risk. And it went well. 

Thus, perhaps, was born Cuban soul (Puntilla Music, 2021); or when someone very close to him gave him the light: “Brother, this is the way”. That, why or how Leoni at 43 years old decided to turn to traditional genres, we do not know (and perhaps we will never know, given his reluctance to give interviews). We know that the composer and singer wanted not to repeat himself and the result is a clean, very acoustic album, with the septet as the main line-up, and romantic. Because yes, even when taking risks, Leoni Torres cannot stop being Leoni Torres. He sings to love, to the loss of that love, to loneliness for the loss of love; he also sings to the woman. That is his niche, his fertile ground.

Cover of the Cuban soul album.

Cover of the album Básico, No Básico y Dirigido Cuban soul.

The 10 songs of this phonogram, which goes from bachata to bolero, from son to changüí, from guaracha to troubadour song, have that stamp. Your seal. But they also have the mark of Kelvis Ochoa, author of five songs on the plate; because if we do the exercise of guessing which song was written by whom, certain tricks of Kelvis will immediately come to mind. I will continue, for example, second track and probably one of the future hits from the album, it's a very Kelvisian; and when at the height of the seventh theme Leoni sings "I'm going to miss when the moon is in the room" we can not help but attribute such a scene to the inventiveness of the one from Habana Abierta, who serves as the musical producer of the album together with Leoni himself already Leonardo Gil Milián —the latter also in charge of the arrangements. 

Reminding you —third cut, authored by Leoni as I'll stay, Are you and The last good-bye— is undoubtedly a hit Of bars. If we were not in the midst of a pandemic and the possibility of dancing in a club, surrounded by people and beers, was not remote, this song would sound close to dawn and no one, absolutely no one, could stop singing it and enjoy it as it deserves . (Let's sigh... those times will come back). 

Then this if it were mine, unique track that it does not correspond to the Torres-Ochoa duo but to Polo Montañez; song-tribute that Leoni gives himself the pleasure of interpreting right in the middle of this phonogram and that takes us back to the glorious times of the Guajiro Natural. 

But if there is a protagonist throughout the entire album, that is the guitar and Nam San Fong is, in part, one of those responsible. In traditional music, specifically that defended by septets, the guitar has the strict function of harmonic support as it is scratched all the time so that the tres takes the reins and “sings”; not here. Here the guitar brings other transparencies to the sound, in keeping with Leoni's soft way of singing. 

(At this point, let's write that down: what a natural voice this artist has. The technique is there, somewhere —the growth is noticeable if we look at his time in La Charanga Habanera, when he had to project, perhaps too much—, but he appreciates his impeccable tuning and his relaxed way of singing). 

The trumpet, meanwhile, appears from time to time on tracks like I'll stay and My crazy, and he does it under the orders of Julio Padrón. In the 1920s, during the boom of the septets, this instrument flourished and improvised freely on a sequence of chords, giving the piece a different height, a certain delight from the musical and aesthetic point of view. Everything seems to indicate that Leoni and his accomplices went down that path, recovering the majesty that the son had at other times. 

Traditional contemporary music, this is how Leoni Torres himself has defined his Cuban soul, album title for nothing gratuitous. There is here a mix of genres, styles, artists, spiritualities and eras; although to be fair this is not the first time that the artist has come out to unfold musically —let's remember the album saucing (Egrem, 2012) and his subsequent reggaeton incursions. It seems that there, in that sound flirtation, he feels comfortable, which we cannot say about many other singers, truth be told. 

There is also a record production here that lovers of the traditional will appreciate; and we say thank you because for a long time we have missed such a meticulous work where the traditional aspects and those of the romantic song within the ballad and pop intersect in such a genuine and harmonic way. They were running through parallel universes, now they meet; and that is, without a doubt, a contribution of Leoni Torres to current Cuban music. 

Listen Cuban soul here.

Avatar photo Lorena Sánchez journalist before. Editor now. Like Tom Waits, he likes beautiful melodies that tell terrible things. More posts
Avatar photo Rafael Valdivia Wandering vinyl collector in the skein of Cuban discography. Engineer ever. The great soneros of yesteryear are never missing from his playlist. More posts

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  1. Susu says:

    Thank you AmPm for this beautiful work

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