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Buika

Niña de Fuego

(Warner Music Latina; US: 19 Aug 2008; UK: 2 Jun 2008)

I haven’t heard a voice with quite this temperature of drybush husk since Lhasa de Sela came out with La Llorona—not her second album, which I somehow managed to miss out on, but her first, with all that sob on top of “El Payande”. The news that Spanishwoman Concha Buika once worked as a Tina Turner impersonator in Las Vegas would be nothing more than a demi-interesting piece of trivia if it didn’t suggest a link between the two women’s approach to singing, the way that Buika, like Turner, goes beyond the amount of emotion that an audience would casually require of a singer, and sing as if she’s answering some inner need. At the same time she sounds professional and aurally shapely, one eye on the microphone. She’s performed at a flamenco festival but the flamenco here is strictly nuevo. Rancheras are her strong point. She has the right way of sounding drunk yet alert enough to mourn and scorn absent lovers. Javier Limón’s guitar is sometimes too mushy for my taste, but the voice is outstanding.

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