Review Summary: Flamenco artist Rosalía uses her voice as an expressway for emotion and rich intensity, resulting in a flat-out and mostly mesmerizing debut.
Since she was 13, Rosalia has been fascinated with Flamenco music and the emotional substance it has—and to which she righteously conveys—where words are spoken like intimate conversation, from quiet to crashing wails, atop of a sharing classical guitar. The music is often associated with the popular dance and the mass of finger snaps and hand claps used as percussion, but, the way Rosalia invokes her love for Flamenco is strangely contemporary and almost a brand new thing. In an interview with tomtommag, she speaks about the talk of her reinventing the genre and bringing it to a younger generation; “It is not my intention to alter, in any way, the status quo of this genre. It is more like… I sing flamenco from my perspective.” Her words, like her music, are rooted to the songs she performs—the folkloric music and art-form she discovered as a teen has, like many others, seeped into her genes and filled her with love.
With the way she sings it’s clear. Rosalia stated that Flamenco music is the form of expression she’s chosen, and with the waves of energetic cries that come from her mouth, it’s hard to think she could ever do something else. On what’s probably Los Ángeles‘s most thundering track “De Plata”, her words translate to an almost heartbroken desire; “When I die, I ask you that with your braids, with your black haired braids, you tie my hands”, she howls in an elongated distance of time. The guitar then dies down and she reenters almost the same, before going out with an increasing bang. Her voice is rich with intensity, and yet lathered with mournful lyrics; third track “Nos Quedamos Solitos” is five minutes long and details a poignant scene, where, from Rosalia’s perspective, her brother awakens her, to which she replies “Why don’t you wake up" Our mother has died and we are left alone.” The song ends with perhaps her most contemporary piece of music; a tiny choir-like refrain, heated against the dashing guitar, where a simple melody is all that is needed to finish such poignancy.
“Catalina” may be the most Flamenco-like track on the album; it’s intact with a sweeping classical guitar that’s generic and thankfully enlightened by the magnificent voice that Rosalia emits. In three minutes, she details so much—her words seem to converse with listeners, to which she intensifies at any given moment. It’s rapid, and then the next soothing; she has stated that she feels the most comfortable while singing when she feels the feeling of talking, to which she calls a sensation. Within the tragic side of the album’s lyrics, there are moments of happiness, it seems. On “Te Venero”, Rosalia ends the track with an upbeat piece of guitar and refrain—one that would almost be sung beside family and friends.
Yet, she closes the album beautifully with a cover of Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy’s melancholy rendition of “I See A Darkness”, perhaps so she can she underline the sadness she accustoms to her lyrics. The track is a stunning closer and probably the most heartbreaking thing to hear on the album. The lyrics on Los Ángeles are to be translated to fully understand (and to which genius.com have already worked on), but even without the translation, there’s still a magnetic drama and memoir going on across the deep guitar, however tedious it can appear at 49 minutes of minimal instruments. Words are channeled through the heaviest of emotion; from despair, to anger, to somber flashbacks—her stories are forced against the effectiveness in her voice, and dealt touchingly.