Carmelina shows just how much the music of Toto La Momposina had developed since her debut, La Candela Viva. Recorded in 1994/95, it's far less folkloric than its predecessor -- although three of the tracks do fall into that category. Instead, the focus is on songs, and the arrangements are much fuller, unafraid to add brass to tracks like the porro "Los Sabores Del Porro" or the Afro Colombiano "Ven Pronto." Notable by its absence is Colombia's national rhythm, the cumbia, although the pan-Latin bolero form is represented with a pair ofbolero sons, "La Sombra Negra" and the title track. Where the traditional styles on her previous outing had explored the Afro-Colombian tradition of her island of Mompos, the folkloric cuts here, such as "Indios Farotos," delve into the Indian past, with an emphasis on the native gaita, or flute. With Toto once again in wonderful full voice, it's impossible to resist the rhythms and warm melodies of the songs. Even the edgy "Mohana," with its disorienting, echo-y production, doesn't sound forbidding or out of place. But Toto's grown to become more than a singer from Mompos, or even from Colombia. As the performances show, she's a major talent in Latin music -- and on the basis of this, justifiably so.
AllMusic Review by Chris Nickson