Chavela Vargas

Cupaima

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Chavela Vargas is a woman who manages to be both a Mexican institution and an iconoclast at the same time. Almost 90 at the time of this release, she has shown that ranchera and bolero can be feminine forms, and not exclusively the preserve of very macho artists like José Alfredo Jiménez. Titled for her nickname, this CD/DVD package is a remarkable piece of work about an artist who deserves wider recognition outside her homeland. The DVD is fascinating, with an excellent interview that illustrates her philosophy of life, but it's the music that's most telling, like "Las Simples Cosas," where her voices aches with passion over a spare, very Mexican sound. Even at her age there's an almost magical presence in her singing, full of lust, romance, and fate. Her take on the classic "La Llorona" is a prime example -- you can practically feel the desire dripping from her words. She's one of the most important singers ever to have come out of Mexico, and this does her proud.

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