Mañana, the latest album from Canadian singer-songwriter Amanda Martinez, is smooth Latin pop touched with a bit of flamenco, a bit of Mexicana, and even a bit of jazz here and there. Martinez has a lovely voice. Her repertoire, both her own original compositions and the couple of pieces by others, provides her with an elegant showcase. Her earlier albums, Sola (2006) and Amor (2009), resulted in her nominations as Latin Jazz Artist of the Year at Canada’s National Jazz Awards. This new album is likely to get her even wider recognition. It would be well deserved.
After all this is a woman who gave up what seems like a profitable career in finance to pursue her art. Like many young people, she was attracted to music and performance, but it seemed to make more sense to train for a more secure career. In college, she studied biology and then went on to get a masters degree in international business. After graduation she got a position with a bank, dealing with their business in Latin America. Success in business does not always mean happiness. She took some time off from the bank to test the musical waters and hasn’t had to look back.
Produced by Grammy winner Javier Limon, Mañana features a dozen songs, 10 of which are Martinez originals or collaborations with Limon, Fernando Osorio, or Elsten Torres. Two, “Frozen” and “Let’s Dance,” are in English. Another, “Le Chemin,” written with her husband bassist Drew Birston, is in English and French. The rest are all in Spanish. Fortunately for those of us who don’t speak the language, the album includes a booklet with complete lyrics, not only in Spanish but in English translation as well.
There are times when it seems better not to know what a lyric means, this is not one of them. There is a poetic power to much of the writing that really demands to be understood. In “Nuevos Caminos (New Paths),” the imagery is almost surreal: “You take me like the breeze/Like the waves of the sea/That go dancing and painting smiles/We are the bubbles—love me again.” In “Dias Invisibles (Invisible Days)” she says, “I carry inside/The miracle of a flower/The way it grows without pain.” It would be a shame for lyrics like these to be lost for want of translation.
If you like Latin pop, Mañana is filled with music to make you happy. If you’re not particularly a fan, Mañana is the kind of album likely to make you see the error of your ways. You can hear a sample on the Martinez website.
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