Pedro Luis Ferrer | Tangible
Album review by John Powell
On Pedro Luis Ferrer’s fourth album, Tangible he continues with a classic Cubana sound. Leaning and indulging in acoustic guitar, the tres, hand percussion, and with utilizing backing singers wonderfully, Pedro paints a Havana world. Much in the way Buena Vista Social Club opened up this music to a wider range of audiences, Pedro keeps things lively. It’s all in Spanish, so if you know the language you’ll pick up his poetry, but his interesting melody choices and emotion is readily apparent, no matter what language.
Take “Venimos O Nos Vamos (We’re coming or we’re going)”, a happier melody wrapped around a funky groove including horns. (Great, great horns throughout the album, by the way.) It’s purely for dancing as the percussion picks up speed. Pedro has always worked towards breaking convention, which he does here. Had this song turned up in a pop-maker’s hands, the beats could easily be made digital bleeps and his voice modulated. Hand it over to Shakira and you have a hit. But Pedro, despite breaking convention, keeps things stripped down.
On the title track he brings piano to the forefront. The vibe is jazzy. He sings side by side with female vocals, creating a partnership, which this song feels meant for. Salsa-esque, it’s ready for showing off your break steps. He says (sort of), “Let me tell you a story about love,” and you can almost hear him grinning.
The catchiest track is “Yo No Queiro Manteca” (I don’t want any fat), he returns to the hook often. It’s pretty literal. He doesn’t want to add anything to his cake. He loves his food, but says, “I have enough mass.”
So, don’t confuse Tangible with being too serious of an album, or to think it’s meant to be pure fun either. This isn’t really a party album all the way through. Pedro’s dubbed his own sound Changuisa, a take on Changui, a Cuban style of music. On “Mi Changuisa Come Fruta Verde (My Changuisa eats green fruit)”, he keeps things mellow and slow. Just like it’s purpose, this Changuisa sounds very close to the classic Cuban music you’d expect, but he’s added in more jazz elements and instrumental frills than commonly used. This keeps the song moving forward.
I do speak Spanish, but I’m not as fluent as I used to be. I therefore can’t pick out more lyrics that fully articulate Pedro’s lyricism, but as for the album’s sound, it doesn’t have a highly compressed sound to it; it’s airy, not harsh on the ears. All instruments shine through nicely. And, like I said, anyone that appreciates this style of music can put it on and be transported to a world far away from their own, but very close at hand for Pedro.
Bottom Line: One of the more unique modern releases from a Cuban great, pushing the sound and keeping things lively.