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Jose Conde

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Album Review

Jose Conde's true solo debut finds him broadening his horizons from his Cuban-centric work with Ola Fresca, taking on more of a Latin pop mantle, slipping in some streetwise R&B on "Matapalo Matamusa," and a touch of rock with "Gordito Cabazon" (where the organ sound and riffs bring up echoes of ? & the Mysterians). It's a completely assured record, as you'd expect from someone with so much experience, but this time Conde trades in his tres for guitars, some excellent production, and plenty of quirkiness in the writing — all the songs are Conde originals. He's developed into a fearsome artist, equally at home on floating material like "Gota de Felicidad," which morphs into an almost reggae-like beat at its close. In some ways he's reminiscent of Manu Chao, drawing inspiration from different sources to create a surprisingly unified, very contemporary sound; even a tango like "El Vestido," performed very straight and romantically, doesn't sound out of place. He's superb at establishing moods, as he reveals on "El Manantial" and on the soft samba of "Mabel," whose programming offers a nod to Caetano Veloso (the track is sung in Portuguese, as well as Spanish, much like "Mujer" here, which is sung in both Spanish and English versions). Conde is a man of many facets, and he shows quite a few of them here. As an artist he's growing into his maturity; he's not quite there yet, but he's certainly well on his way.

Jose Conde, Jose Conde
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