Manuel Agujetas

Cante Flamenco [Nimbus]

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Released by Nimbus, a label known primarily for their Indian classical albums, Cante Flamenco is an intense and wonderful journey through a style of music that's been the heart of Andalucia for centuries. The singers were five of the greatest cantores of the day, four of them at a small flamenco club, and one other, El Cabrero, at a festival. There is an achingly bittersweet quality in the voice of a good cantor, and these singers have every bit of that quality. The guitar accompaniment is exactly as it should be -- attempting to complement and supplement the singers, not necessarily to showcase itself in front. As such, it is done beautifully. The real treat in the album, though, is the singing. Notes can stretch for half a minute, wrenching both the voice and the heart of the singer, and at least one of those on the listener. Most of the material revolves around the anguish of life -- the hard destiny of man, and the heartache of unrequited love. The workings of the voice have been mastered over the lifetimes of these singers. And how it shows. The listener is pulled through the heart and soul of the singer whether they're ready or not. That is how flamenco should be.

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