I’ve been popipopo-pipipi-ing my way through Cuban/Canadian Alex Cuba’s latest album, “Lo Único Constante”— literally on repeat as I drive on my way to work— since its release at the beginning of April.
The new album sounds (and feels) somewhat different than his preceding and very successful creation, 2015’s “Healer”, which was, as Cuba himself described it on an interview with Alma Latina back then, “mixing it up just a tad more, including 5 bilingual duets with four Canadian and one American artists— something he’s very excited about not just because of the possibilities to open other doors in the industry but more than anything because he’s eager to have his own loyal fans get to know the vast pool of talent that Canada, especially, has to offer by introducing them to these five artists he collaborated with.”
And the Artemisa-born, Smithers BC-based talented singer/songwriter did just that and so much more, as Healer earned him a well-deserved Latin Grammy Award for Best Singer-Songwriter Album and a Grammy Award nomination for Best Latin Pop Album. Not an easy feat for a Canada-based Latin artist.
The new album (his sixth studio effort), “Lo Único Constante” (loosely translating to “The Only Constant”) has a lot of very nostalgic elements of yesteryear in Cuban music, with lyrically-rich songs like En Mi Guitarra, a song that according to Cuba, “tells a story of a voice that found its way inside my guitar…at the end of the song the voice becomes a real person as beautiful as the voice inside my guitar.” This song especially is reminiscent of rich and poetic verses Silvio Rodriguez/Leonard Cohen style, with lyrics like “The symphony of a voice remained inside my guitar and it had found my hope asleep. I’d been on the edge of fear but it was able to open up my heart with a minuend of illusion written in the most profound inflection that silence had given to my life.” I’m telling you, Leonard/Silvio worthy stuff.
Cuba has said that in writing the songs for this album he dug deep into his roots, paying homage to great and unforgettable Cuban artists and their timeless musical styles known as the “Filin Movement”, a melting pot of Cuban trova, soul and jazz, amongst other elements that Cuba was exposed to from his early years through his also-artist father, Valentin Puentes. You can hear tinges of all these elements in some of the beautiful ballads “Me Queda Este Grito”, “Eco” and “El Mismo Dolor”. And you can literally feel the effervescence of the Cuban soul in catchy melodies like the popopipoporiferous (I just made up a word…you have to hear the song to get it) “Piedad de Mi” and “Chekere”. I gotta say, though, I do hear strong influences of La Nueva Trova Cubana in guitar-chord rich-riffing melodies like “Yo Se Quien Soy”. And Cuba is slowly becoming just as prolific in his body of work and lyrically poetic as some of Cuba’s greatest artists of the past.
Cuba introduced his latest offering in early April to a sold out audience at Koerner Hall, and is currently planning the upcoming touring dates to promote the album. “Lo Único Constante is on pre-sale availability through Caracol Records/Fontana North.