Josephine Foster and The Victor Herrero Band - Anda Jaleo
Dominic Valvona 13/10/2010
It's 2010 and a lone senorita soothingly swoons over an accompanying candour imbued flourishing backing of Spanish guitar, castanets, and Flamenco styled foot stamping, on this atavistic collection of bygone era folklore tunes; first brought together by the Andalusian playwright and poet, Federico Garcia Lorca.
Such is the sense of the old world and tradition on Anda Jaleo that you soon forgot you're listening to a modern day recording: let alone the fact that the singer, Josephine Foster, is a folk chanteuse from latter day Colorado, and not an antiquing troubadour widower from Goya period Spain.
This collaboration between Foster and her Madrid born sparring partner Victor Herrero - who brings along his own band of useful musicians - is a congruous array of both stirring and evocative lyrical odes, which pay tribute to the tragic figure of Lorca and his source material. Tragic, because this foremost avant-garde writer disappeared during the countries civil war, along with most of his surrealist inspired and experimental work. Questions are still unanswered as to the circumstances of his demise, though it is believed local Fascist officials executed him for his leftist leanings.
Before his disappearance, Lorca took on the role of an ethnographical curator, collating together a songbook of popular rousing and romanticised prose entitled Las Canciones Populares Espanolas - this was later recorded in 1931 by the South American flamenco dancer La Argentinita. It was duly banned on its release by the Franco regime, along with many references and cultural works that dared eulogise the old country.
Eighty years later, these Iberian tales are brought back into our own “sub-conscious”, with a desiderate display of know-how craft and charm. The album reveals itself to be a relic, brought back to life, with its doleful-toned musings on mule drivers, 'Los Cuatro Muleros'; delicately strummed and plucked tales of 15th century lusty Moorish girls, 'Las Morillas de Jaen'; and witty played out lovelorn morality, 'Las Tres Hojas'. Each song contains a whole cast of historical characters, from bull fighting brothers and young lovers on a pilgrim to Rome, to wild gypsy women and brow-beaten sons, they all act as though they were players on a proscenium or operatic production. Together they build up an impressively produced collage of stories.
What really stands out though on this album is Foster's stunning voice. All the vocals are sung in the native tongue - an achievement in itself - but it's the way she channels all the beauty of the choral tones and timbre through her modest frame. At times her voice is that of a cooing 19th century Mexican peasant girl sending her brave bode off to fight across the boarder, at others, she is a lamenting El-Cid period damsel, awaiting the return of her knight, back from fighting the Moors.
Foster's foils, Herrero and his seasoned band, subtly underpin the whole affair, moving between timelines effortlessly. Whether it's the expansive striding guitar on 'Los Pelegrinitos', or the lush mournful harp on 'Los Reyes de la Baraja', they always create a suitable respectful ambience, which occasionally prompts Herrero to add his own authentically laid-bare backing vocals to the songs.
In all Anda Jaleo has a rustic feel that will appeal to traditionalists, or those seeking a captured preserved piece of Spanish history. Forget all those nu-folk and boring bedraggled Tolpuddle Martyr fashioned amateurs, this is where the real deal can be found.