Amanda Martinez has put together yet another brilliant programme to flaunt her considerable vocal powers. A singer with an operatic equivalent of a mezzo-soprano Miss Martinez can sometimes swoop down low and deliver some seductively smoky notes in the contralto realm. As a prodigiously-gifted multi-lingual equally comfortable in Spanish, French and English, her expressiveness is irresistible. She squeezes maximum nuance from each word of the songs in this wonderfully produced repertoire to produce the effect of a sigh, or to suggest the platonic and sensual aspects of love, as well as the everyday joys and meditative aspects of everyday living – all of this on song after song through Libre with complete and utter conviction.
As she does so she generously shares these emotions, relinquishing the spotlight from time to time, to the other musicians who undergird her mood and emotion with persuasiveness of their own. But make no mistake she is the true star of this record and she blends with the lush harmonic content, which is either vocal from stars such as Kellylee Evans, or instrumental from the members of her longtime band that includes husband and bassist Drew Birston, trumpeter Alexander Brown, percussionist Rosendo “Chendy” Leon , violinist Osvaldo Rodriguez and guitarist Kevin Laliberté, who also contributes heavily to songwriting duties as well as engineering and production that shapes the whole sound of this project.
Through it all Miss Martinez’s instrument remains lustrous, precise and feather-light. Her musicianship can also be fierce, especially when she digs into the emotion of lyrics. “Sharon’s Song” is a superb example of everything that is outstanding about this album. It features a splendid example of how Miss Martinez can also bring ceaseless variety to soft dynamics and give every phrase a special grace. The lyrics of other songs are also warmly and judiciously interpreted and Miss Martinez sounds as if singing were her most natural mode of expression; and since she has an extraordinarily beautiful voice, there should be decades of happiness as she continues to develop and expand her repertoire.
Track list – 1: Hey Corazón; 2: Begin; 3: Caterpillars of Love; 4: Libérame; 5: En la Distancia; 6: Días de Amar; 7: Te Amo; 8: Sharon’s Song; 9: Estaba Cayendo; 10: African Skies
Personnel – Amanda Martinez: vocals; Kevin Laliberté: guitars; Drew Birston: bass; Rosendo “Chendy” Leon: percussion; Alexander Brown: trumpet; Osvaldo Rodriguez: violin; Elsten Torres: vocals (1); Donné Roberts: vocals (2, 5, 10) and guitar (5); Kellylee Evans: vocals (4); Guadalupe Urbina: vocals (6); Pablosky Rosales: vocals (7); Waleed Abdulhamid: vocals, bass and percussion (9); Harold Birston: cello
Released – 2019
Label – Sola Records
Runtime – 33:58