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Reviews Album cover: Ana Tejeda / Design: Pepe Menéndez. Album cover: Ana Tejeda / Design: Pepe Menéndez.

Flying / Charly Siaba

The meeting between Charly Siaba, his music and me has always been touched by magic. I think it is a product of the sincerity that emanates, that with which he feels and tells, through sounds, his story. 

so surprised me with Flying, his first acoustic EP; a compilation of four singles, some released on digital platforms during these months, and others, such as the newly released song of the same name. An album that defines him well as a person, draws from his calm, his energy and his desire to take on the world.

Charly is a Cuban musician who has lived in Houston, United States for a few years. Since he left the Island in 2016, he has lived countless experiences, traditions, music, cultures, places and people that have contributed to his constantly evolving sound imagery. Hence the themes of Flying summarize all that stylistic and identity scaffolding; the feeling of the nights in which he wrote melodies is noticeable; the sensations of sand and air of vinyl records when they are played on an old turntable: image and sound transfigured, gray, nostalgic, sensitive and subtle.

It is, as he himself said, “an acoustic EP of naked songs, one of those that I write without haste in any corner, those that I have played so many times on my sofa, that have stolen my early mornings, that take away my sleep and give me back the faith".

Songs for the soul, that is how I would define this production; samples of a young and transmuted sound that drinks from the Cuban tradition, bolero, classical music, and incorporates the energy of jazz, pop and the new electronic sounds that make it even more vicious.

The tracks on the EP are hypnotic. fleeting. They are led by a transparent red thread, that of the Japanese legends of love, which is tense, but never breaks. This is how these four songs come together, which makes me think that the setlist it was carefully cured. The art of this production is also related to the music that is heard: blurred spaces in the streets, an elegant place —hence the grays, the black and white of the cover—, romantic, inspiring and introspective. Also appearing on the cover is the personality of the artist and his room, like a recording studio, the one where he consolidated the creative process of this acoustic album.

Sounds an E major seventh in Far from here, the first track of this short duration of 10:33 min. The subject is the photo of a loving and ephemeral encounter. The illusions of the past turned into melodies, the retracing of corners in which he learned to live —and to love intensely, they are the most important. Recreate the story with voice, guitar, piano and miscellaneous. He is escorted from the keyboards by Andy García, one of the young promises of our current Cuban music. The keys of that piano, along with Charly's voice, become sweet and daring; the shakers accompaniment, the clicks and choruses remind me of Sinatra in New York, New York; He has the hand of Gelo Hau, a Cuban violinist and producer, Charly's battle friend like Andy, and co-producer with both of them on this song. Mixing and mastering were also in charge.

We arrived to undress, and we have mixed feelings, interpretations forged in the light of a sensual image of a woman who needs, like all human beings, to let go of the things that bind her. I listen to the song and I feel that nudity is art; I discover myself in that being who wants to share feelings and music. A song full of silhouettes and intimacy, like that little video post on Instagram that went up in September 2021 under the light of a light bulb, when I heard it for the first time. The difference is that this new version was recorded with voice and piano by Charly himself, and also mixed and mastered by him. 

Collaborations such as that of Jesús Pupo, Cuban producer and pianist who has just released his album Prayed (Egrem, 2022), are also present in the EP. Together with him he co-produces Where were you, a bolero that uses synthesizers and dynamic colors that are worked on the piano based on a new sound, between tradition and modernity. It reminds me in many melodic-harmonic motifs of As was, that Benny bolero that permeates the art of these musicians so much, and that has been a school for many Cubans (including me). The strings complete the sonority when they enter at minute one of the song. “And it is better to see the light with the eyes of the soul…”. 

Close the EP of stories shared with Flying

Thalía keeps in her suitcase

 A couple of dreams and a love 

 And the moon has become small

 And she was exhausted from seeing her from her balcony 

Caressing the city that leaves 

Watch another corner dawn. 

There are many paths and many interpretations here: how Thalía dreams of letting go of her reality and tries to experiment in new places. It goes from the need to dream; of his image flying in that dream, looking for different landscapes. The photograph of your name can be a symbol, a woman; but we can also be all of us, appropriating that feeling through Charly's voice and guitar. In the background, the lights of downtown Houston.

There is plus in this song: the main melodic theme (of the chorus) reads: “Flying you go, flying I go, flying you go to me / Flying you go, flying I go, in you”, and is subtly inspired by one of the movements of the New World Symphony by Anton Dvorak. An allusion to symphonic music from the small format and that makes you travel through that music of the world. You fly…

And it is that Charly, in addition to being passionate about new sonorities, also absorbs the heritage of his grandfather, Sergio Siaba, a Galician who lived in Cuba in the last century, a composer of guarachas and sones such as Tula's room, Bit of my life, and Ave María Lola. It will be then, in the nature of the Siaba, to develop a multifaceted sound universe that impregnates the artist. 

But the value of this musician and composer is also in the humility and the truth that he carries with him; along that path forged along with his songs and the people who followed him in this production: together with those already mentioned, there is Ricardo Wheelock from the mixing and mastering of Where were you, and Ana Tejeda, musician, Charly's life partner and visual artist in charge of the art of the EP.

Houston enjoys the music of Charly Siaba every night, and his songs arrive little by little in Cuba, in which I notice a marked evolution, since I first heard his first single You are not for me, released in 2020. Today, where before a shy, insecure Charly appeared, there is a multi-instrumentalist who consolidates his essence and who dares just as much in a filin as he does in timbing to the beat of a bass, or improvising with the guitar in jazz, rock or are. He defends himself with percussion and experiments with independent music production. To everything he does, he imprints the calm that is perceived in these love songs, with authenticity and subtlety as a flag. 

Avatar photo Meily Tellez Always running around Havana. A nervous one who falls asleep watching series. Her time is for music and her family. She dreams of producing and singing on many stages. A musicologist with roles wanting to be many things... More posts

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  1. Aymee says:

    There are no words to define such written beauty. Thank you Melly for this excellent article from your vision, focused with the soul. Completely agree with what you describe, perceive and feel. Charly Siaba I love you!!!

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