Agua De Mayo (Muxxic, 2002)
Ever since I heard my first flamenco guitar in college, my knees melt at the sound of a flamenco singer belting out melancholic lyrics, ripping guitar notes and Andalusian rhythms. Although I am not an expert on flamenco, I know excellence when I hear it. Diva La Susi, born Encarnación Amador Santiago in Alicante, Spain, in 1955, sends shudders through my body as her powerful vocals take command of the Bulerias, Tangos, Rumbas and Cante de Levantes that appear on her CD, Agua De Mayo (Water of May).
La Susi goes beyond, excellence, and soars somewhere up there in the stratosphere of perfection. Like her younger colleague, Estrella Morente from Granada, La Susi puts the divine back in diva.When La Susi was fourteen years of age, she traveled to Madrid with her brother to make a living. She began as a flamenco dancer at the legendary club, Cuevas de Nemesio, where she danced her heart out and was discovered by the prestigious Villa Rosa.
On one of those hot nights while making the flamenco scene, Paco de Lucia offered to record her first album. This led her to work with Paco’s father, also the producer of the late and legendary, tortured performer, Camaron de la Isla. La Susi was only 17 at the time and has been making records ever since.
Her latest CD, Agua De Mayo is the work of a seasoned veteran. La Susi’s bold vocals recall a racehorse charging out of the gate on the opening track, El Tarro de la esencia. Like a true diva or a queen, La Susie takes command and from that moment on, her vocals sail, crescendo, ache, yearn and emote passion. Similar to another favorite vocalist of mine, Estrella Morente (mentioned earlier), La Susi possesses the right blend of instinct, talent, technique and passion necessary for the execution of any traditional vocal style. The titular track slows things down a bit and again La Susi’s delivery is stunning.
A couple of tracks, Es mi destino, a rumba with blaring horns and a salsa tinge and Noche Oscura recall the French group, The Gypsy Kings (the group that popularized flamenco rumbas). The Tanguillo, Mi Niña Mercedes (My Daughter Mercedes) offers listeners an endearing composition about a mother’s love for her daughter. Given the right hot summer day and an air of melancholy, I could easily fall in love with this CD. Although I have not heard of La Susi until a few days ago, I won’t soon forget her songs. (This review also appeared on Cranky Crow World Music).
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