Juan Carlos Formell
Cemeteries & Desire (Narada 09463-30886-2-7, 2005)
Juan Carlos Formell is a representative of Cuban trova. Unlike many of his
colleagues, who live in Cuba or Spain, he lives in the United States. It’s sad
because his music is primarily poetic and you need to understand Spanish in
order to appreciate the intricacies of his music. He would have a bigger
following in Spanish-speaking America or Spain.
Cemeteries & Desire is a quiet and intimate recording, which features a warm
voice and a masterful guitar. There is an absence of percussion. The one song
that stands out from the rest is “Agua Bendita” (Holy Water), a song by Formell
that I’ve heard before in another version. It is truly beautiful and certain to
become a classic.
A bittersweet note. Juan Carlos Formell recorded this album in New Orleans, in
May, before the floods. He pays a tribute to New Orleans and the allusion to
cemeteries comes from his visit to the city’s famed cemetery, where he found the
tomb of a possible ancestor. “In exile I saw my homeland as a fixed point in the distance. Arriving in New Orleans, I suddenly understood that the entire Caribbean was a house, and each of its ports a door.