Jorge Drexler ‘Salvavidas de Hielo’ (Warner) 4/5

Uruguayan singer-songwriter, now resident in Spain, returns for another distinctive and, at times, idiosyncratic, travel through Latin Americana, with a stronger nod to Brazilian rhythms, notably the samba (though other world roots are discernible), and sounding at times as though a disciple of Caetano Veloso. This is illustrated on the lyrical samba-influenced ‘Abracadabra’, with guest vocals from Julieta Venegas and a melodic electric guitar solo from the leader as well on the mid-tempo groove of, ‘Pongamos que hablo de Martínez’. A Cuban-style instrumental, ‘Estalactitas’, then goes into something altogether rockier, and the different phases and tempi make this song a most interesting one. In contrast, the reposing ‘Asilo’, is pared down to just guitar and the guest vocals of Mexican singer Mon Laferte. The duets create beautiful harmonies and are deserving of a whole album at some stage. Spanish flamenco influences are hinted at, with the possible use of the cajón on ‘Telefonía’. In general, the simple rhythms created linger long in the memory, and the melodic and sparing use of instrumentation, as on, ‘Mandato’, with collective harmonies and hand clapping, work a treat. This recording builds up on a well received 2014 release, ‘Bailar En La Cueva’, and produced by Carles Campi Campón. Handwritten notes on the inner and outer sleeve notes and the creative art design gives the package as a whole a highly individual and even a 1970’s inspired rustic folk feel.

Tim Stenhouse