Traveling with the Exiles

Los Desterrados -  Miradores</a Los Desterrados – Miradores

Miradores (Crusoe, 2009)

Travel the Mediterranean with ‘Miradores’ from Los Desterrados, their second on the independent Crusoe label.  With tighter percussion, more rounded singing, greater interplay between the strings of the guitar, oud, violin and electric bass, plus autograph beckoning studio portraits in the glossy sleeve notes, the album stands out as an altogether confident offering, building on their 2001 debut, ‘Tu It has also landed the band a nomination in the Songlines Music awards 2009.

Their confident sound, could be attributed in part to the sound engineering of Simon Edwards.  However, one mustn’t ignore the ground covered by the London based band during the last nine years of hard work and countless live performances. 

Miradores continues their exploration and passion for the songbook of the Sephardic Jews.  Los Desterrados ( The Exiles)  draw on the musical legacy of the Sephardic diaspora after their expulsion from King Ferdinand’s Spain in 1462. Mapping the journey of the Sephardic Diaspora we are taken on a journey around the Mediterranean, south across North Africa and east through Greece, The Balkans and finally into Turkey.

Highlights of the album include, “Kokhav tzedek” ( Star of Righteousness ), a rousing percussive number with plenty of opportunities to join in with handclaps and yodels as Daniel Jonas sings a Moroccan song in praise of the prophet Abraham, accompanied by flute, darbuka in a call and response style in which the rest of the band form the chorus. 

“Por La Tu Puerta Yo Pasi” ( I passed by your door ) sung in Ladino and Turkish with beautiful poise, emotion and timing by Mark Greenfield.  As he tells us that he would rather be buried than rejected by his love, his vocals interweave with a sympathetic violin and guitar. Mirroring the sentiments of a lovelorn young man, the song breaks into flamenco phrases to emphasise his frustration while the violin relays his mental turmoil.  

“Por Ke Yoras, Blanka Ninya ?” (Why do you weep fair maiden?) Hayley Blitz at her finest, hitting the highs and the lows with gentle melancholy.  A stripped down song, with a perfectly sympathetic guitar accompaniment from Daniel Jonas who again, makes use of flamenco phrasing and perfect timing to underpin the emotional stresses of being left, a young widow with tiny children to feed.

Miradores is a celebration of love and life in all its facets, sometimes, joyful, sometimes contemplative and mournful.  Youthful desires, suffocating mother in laws, unrequited love, seductive flirtations, war  and abandonment are the common themes.  There’s also space for a fun nonsense song from Bulgaria in which a frog fries chips and camels make filo pastry.   Secular folk songs sit alongside religious praise songs.  Each with an individual interpretation offered by Los Desterrados, who demonstrate that whilst much has happened in the world during the last 500 years, the themes in the songs are as relevant today as they ever were.

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Author: Jill Turner

Jill Turner contributes to Songlines Magazine, World Music Central and is on the fRoots critics albums of the year panel. Her radio show GondwanaSound broadcasts on Sheffield Live! 93.2FM to the fourth largest city in the UK and is carried on both Radio Groovalizacion and African Internet Radio.


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