Adriana Varela Más Tango Review

Released 2005.  

BBC Review

There's absolutely no doubt that tango is in very good hands, with artists of this...

Jon Lusk 2005

In Argentina, Adriana Varela is a major star, recognised as such since she first became a tango singer in the early 1990s. Like the Portuguese singer Mariza , (who came to Fado after working in a completely different musical field) Varela was a rock singer before being 'discovered' by old school tanguero Roberto Goyeneche. His seal of approval, and her fantastically sultry voice ensured that she soon assumed iconic status at home. No other contemporary female tango singer can rival her for sheer style and versatility. Equally at home with a traditional orquesta típica and electronic tango innovators Bajofondo Tango Club, she has also dabbled in tango-rock as well as Uruguayan candombe and murga.

Despite such talent, she's not a prolific recording artist, and her most recent full album remains Cuando el Río Suena, a wonderful 1999 collaboration with Uruguayan producer/musician Jaime Roos, which explored musical styles found on both banks of the Río de la Plata. Más Tango ('More Tango') is more traditional, apparently recorded a year before, and only now being marketed ­ somewhat absurdly ­ as her 'international debut'. Perhaps Argentina's post-millennial economic meltdown has played some part in limiting her career trajectory since this is a fine record, fully deserving of a wider audience.

The songs are tried and tested classics by such well known writers as José Maria and Pascual Contursi, Homero Expósito, Mariano Mores and of course the late Goyeneche, remembered with great affection on 'Pompas de Jabón'. With half a dozen arrangers, there's plenty of variety in the musical settings, all acoustic, with the exception of a hint of electric bass (and soprano sax) on the closing 'Como Dos Extaños'.

Elsewhere, Varela is backed by everything from a swooning nine-piece orquesta (bandoneón, piano, double bass, strings etc) to a single instrument. Outstanding examples of the latter include 'Mi Noche Triste', with her bittersweet husky croon accompanied only by Leopoldo Federico's strutting bandoneón, and the austere, erudite guitar of Juanjo Domínguez on 'Las Cuarenta'. This gifted player also appears on another highlight, the delightful tango waltz of 'Absurdo'. It's fascinating to compare tracks like 'Yuyo Verde' with versions recorded by other artists way back in the middle of the20th century. There's absolutely no doubt that tango is in very good hands, with artists of this calibre guiding it into the 21st.

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