Havana Soul

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The sole release from San Franciscan Latin funk band Songo is a combination of gritty urban tales and rhythmic excursions that benefit from crisp musicianship and sterling production (remarkably so, for an indie recording). The band's intriguing Cuban-Mex hybrid is executed mostly in English, but some cuts are entirely or partially done in Spanish, with a surprisingly large number of tracks tilting away from the percussive toward the mid-tempo. Lead singer Hector "El Spider" Quintana's sonorous voice lacks subtlety and overpowers mellow cuts like "Tu Sabor" and "Little Annie," but it truly shines on the spirited "Never Seen" and "In the City." The other primary member of the group, guitarist Carlos Palomares, opts for excessive modesty, keeping flash and solos to a minimum while maintaining a solid background presence. Although Havana Soul does not take full advantage of the talents of its makers, it is a solid effort worth seeking out for fans of funky Latin music.

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