It’s not common to find such an elegant folk artist nowadays (…) INDIENAUTA Sergio Miro
By now, anyone who has followed his projects in recent years will clearly identify the imprint of Juan Carlos Fernández (Dos Gajos, Matrimonio, ex. Penélope Trip), whose musical and thematic spectrum is quite distinctive. However, the more Juan Carlos strives to tell us that Todo sigue igual ‘Everything stays the same’ (which is the first line of the debut album by Baladista), the more we realize just how much he’s evolved artistically. We see new shades, new differences, with every step along the way.
There’s still the mechanical fingerstyle that Juan Carlos’s has used as his trademark in other projects such as the bluesy Dos Gajos or folk-imbued style of Matrimonio. There are also echoes of Kurt Weil, interwar cabaret, and Latin-American music. This sometimes gives the impression that Juan Carlos writes again and again on the backside of ‘Gracias a la vida’ by Violeta Parra, exchanging grieving vitalism for veiled existentialism. Nonetheless, Baladista is a widening of horizons, incorporating Frank Rudow (drums), Pau Juliá (double bass), and Daniel Pitarch (accordion). With their understated contributions, Juan Carlos’s new band allows him to move from Howe Gelb (‘Cada vez’) to Jeannette (the opening track ‘Hoy y mañana’), Serge Gainsbourg (‘Manifiesto’) or Kevin Ayers (‘Sin sellar’ or the beautiful habanera, ‘Rey de nada’).
Juan Carlos maintains his characteristic airy vocals and arpeggio-guitar arrangements, but certain chord progressions take the disc to unexpected, less predictable landscapes; they are their own land, uprooted and miry.
So while the balladeer takes stock of his indecision, disappointments, and ruses, we embrace his eyebrow-raising melancholy as if it were our own. Internal monologues transformed into songs, we find ourselves stubbornly repeating them over and over again, against the backdrop of pointless static that we struggle with in our day-to-day lives.
(…) Javier Aquilué