Un Domingo Cualquiera, Alex Ferreira
Warner Music, Spain
By Juan Manuel Torreblanca
A fresh and sincere sound is usually something that I look for in music. However, sometimes those qualities alone don’t necessarily imply that the product is good. You also need talent and taste for the mix to work. Alex Ferreira has it all. He also has a secure and lighthearted demeanor that translates into his music rather well, giving it a directness that makes it easy to enjoy. His words are carefully chosen, at times witty or playful, at times romantic or personal, often powerfully visual and emotional, but never gratuitous nor corny. The music is pop rock, plain and simple - guitar driven and properly dressed in mature drum, bass, percussion, keyboard and string arrangements. If you wanted to call it traditional, you could.
Un Domingo Cualquiera might not be re-inventing music, but it doesn’t need to and probably doesn’t want to. I bet that Ferreira strove, above all, to achieve a good record full of good songs. And he succeeded in that. Some of the songs are even great, like “Arraigo,” which floats over a thick and sticky groove as it deals with nostalgia and Ferreira’s delicate situation as an undocumented immigrant upon his arrival in Spain, after leaving his home in the Dominican Republic with pretty much nothing but a guitar and a backpack full of dreams. This song features some of the record’s most definitive lyrics “tengo el corazón condenado a pendular."
“Altoparlante” opens the whole thing with a feel-good vibe that almost transports you to the beach. It’s almost ready to take you surfin’, but it’s not that sunny, really. You can tell from this first song that Ferreira’s music is going to come with a pinch of darkness that only makes the record’s unabashed pop much more interesting. And it also offers a sort of personal manifesto for Ferreira as a singer-songwriter: “esto es lo que hay, y lo que no hay es que no me sale natural”. The song that gives the LP its name is another really good bittersweet song. A lazy Sunday is beautifully depicted in a few images where a couple’s doubts and struggles might be hiding under the bed sheets, between the lines, or within the space dividing each note. Un Domingo Cualquiera reaches its end echoing one of Conor Oberst’s most gorgeous songs “This is the first day of my life/Es el primer día del resto de mi vida”. “Tambores del Congo” brings a deep, slow, heavy, sultry, smoky romance to the record that almost aches with that flavor of folk ballads, and maybe there’s even a bit of country there, but Ferreira’s smooth and bright vocals give it his very own sound.
Now let’s talk about his voice. We know that he’s Dominican, but he sounds more like Duncan Dhu than Rita Indiana. So, is it Spanish pop, then? Maybe, maybe not. I know that he sang blues for a while, and I think you could tell that by just hearing him. There’s a raspy quality, a raw and spoken delivery that makes his voice instantly warm and familiar. You might feel you’ve known it for ages. But it’s definitely his own, and it is mysteriously unique as much as it’s seemingly the voice next door. Ferreira has spent evening sing-a-longs with Jorge Drexler and Fito Paez, and he might belong in that club, too. His album also features a brilliant duet with Ximena Sariñana (“Gravedad”). But, I will dare say I find Un Domingo Cualquiera closer to David Gray’s work than to any Latin or Spanish production that I might have heard lately. The kid with the big black mop of hair, the stern eyes and the lovely voice is timeless and universal. He’s going to be a star, and I’ve no doubt about it. But he’s still learning and growing, and he knows it. And all that’s nothing but good. He recently came to Mexico City to get in touch with the scene and play a bit, and I met him. I told him (in full confidentiality) the rating that I was giving his album and he told me he’d probably give it a 7.5. So, what does this mean? Where is this review going (you might rightfully ask)? I think that what I’m trying to say is that Alex appears to me to be a humble, intelligent, versatile, eclectic, talented, charismatic and brave (even daring) character. One that brings a fresh and sincere, and GOOD, revision to pop rock made en Español. And that doesn’t come any given Sunday, these days.
Un Domingo Cualquiera, Alex Ferreira
Thursday, July 22, 2010
Juan Manuel Torreblanca