Malpaso / Ray Fernandez and Carlos Lage
Misstep (Egrem, 2020) brings together the texts of the Chilean poet Ángel Domper and the Cuban troubadours Ray Fernández and Carlos Lage. Although there is no shortage of walks through areas such as flamenco, son, chachachá, pop and even country, bolero and song are the main protagonists of the phonogram, which brings together 11 songs and a bonus track. In addition to six poems set to music by Domper, the album has three unreleased songs by the Lage-Fernández duo, in which that beautiful and sly vice stands out due to Ray's octosyllable and the attachment to the bolero genre to which Lage has accustomed us.
Both singer-songwriters were born in the 70s. Many troubadours of this time, especially those included in the so-called "De la rosa y la espina" batch, suffered an exposure considered by many to be hasty; but over the years works have appeared that turn off those chapters, perhaps forgettable. This album, in some way, is an example of how some of those singers found their way to song.
Carlos Lage, for example, after that duet with Karel García —I confess that songs on the album Otherwise (1996) are still in my memory—and his work with Habana con Kola in Barcelona, has looked at the bolero scrutinizing it, drinking from names like Juan Arrondo, Bobby Collazo or Julio Gutiérrez; and he leaves us a work that at this point knows how to connect with whoever understands this Cuban way of singing about love and all its demons. In that sense, Misstep it puts him in front of an audience that could embrace him better, if they knew him better.
Although Ray and Lage are the leading voices on this album, the voice of Mane Ferret stands out, and a lot, in the very heartfelt piece salt whip, song that based on piano and bass accompanies a tango-flavored voice that reminds me at times of Adriana Varela. Bárbara Zamora, for her part, takes over four other topics: Havana in me, Roads, Sea and Let's go.
Together with them we see Cucurucho Valdés, Rodney Barreto, Alejandro Delgado, Armando Ozuna, Gastón Joya, Rey Ugarte, Christopher Simpson, Miguel Valdés, Yibran Rivero, Roylán Carballoso, Yenisel Seva and Kelvis Ochoa (the latter, as always, shows the capacity it has to give flavor; although here it was not essential).
I insist on the voice of Bárbara Zamora, because a musician like Ray Fernández could get a good part of the attention. This woman says her songs with enough beauty to deserve an entire album where she is the protagonist. Of course, to the bard his own, his pieces (if the radio sounded correctly) should be there for sure. I imagine it in many playlists.
The album —which, according to the authors, feels like sentences pronounced after drinks, pains that they placed in verses full of suffering and mischief— is a fair proposal, a way of taking up bolero again, which seems not to want to succumb . Here, even when spoken in the present tense, this genre dares to emulate the sound of trios and septets.
female adjectives, the bolero cha with which the album starts, for example, is a clever cover letter: woman, pain, heartbreak, quotes from the classics and, at the same time, a space for enjoyment, to make fun of the obstinate heartbreak.
This is a restless phonogram. Ray, above all, moves through different genres with his mischievous verse, his round tenths, his laughter at the tragic while the other performers generally remain in the song. Misstep, which should be a theme to defend the homonymous CD, and which has already been released as a single, shows the author of Patience in his humorous and sarcastic string, wrapped this time with sixties winks where the minstrel clearly insists on the "love" of bolero. In the end, this is an album for the tear born in the bars of heartbreak.
For the rest, there is the design, those spiteful woman's lips, red on white, that Juan Carlos Viera assumes to illustrate the sound content. All of this together with betrayal, doubt, hugs, tears and even verses to children or to Havana, the fear of losing control and being silly.
An album as a commitment to renewed tradition without artifice. An intense, subtle, mysterious plate... if you get to drink it. A Misstep of the Egrem that is well worth walking, even if it takes us to the precipice.