Magalí Sare – Esponja

17 June 2022, 1:00

Magalí Sare – Esponja

On Friday 17 June, Catalan singer-songwriter Magalí Sare will perform in Brno as part of the Ibérica festival. Her current album Eponja reached number six on the prestigious World Music Charts Europe in June 2022, compiled by 45 European radio publicists from albums around the world. As an invitation to the concert, we bring you a review of this album.

While she is still virtually unknown here, back home in Catalonia Magalí Sare is considered a big rising star. In fact, in 2019 the Catalan Music Academy honored her with the title of Discovery of the Year. Sare has recorded two albums in a cappella style as a soprano with the Quartet Mèlet (2016 and 2017). She made her solo debut in 2018 with the album Cançons d’amor i dominis, and in 2020, a few months apart, she gradually introduced herself as a member of two interesting duos: with Sebastià Gris, a guitarist from Mallorca, she recorded the electro-folk album A Boy and a Girl. This duo will also be presented in Brno at the Ibérica festival. This was followed by Fang i núvols, a jazz-oriented recording of songs by various Ibero-American composers, made in a duo with double bassist Manel Fortià.

If on Fang i núvols she impressed with her spellbinding interpretation of borrowed songs (she herself co-wrote only the first and last tracks on the album), the new solo album Esponja is Magalí Sare’s most personal and intimate recording yet. This is despite the fact that it features more backing musicians than previous albums. In addition to Sebastià Gris, who recorded various guitars, mandolin, and electronic effects, bassist Vic Moliner and drummer Dídak Fernández collaborated on the album. Producer Pau Brugada supervised everything and completed the “sound wrapper”. In addition, the singer invited Portuguese singer Salvador Sobral as a guest on the song Sempre vens assim, and the four-member female group Las Migas co-performs on the song ETC. This actually brings the ratio of women and men on the album to 5:5, but that’s more of a coincidence. As such, the album is primarily female, not only because of its author, but also because of the themes of the lyrics. As Magali Sare points out, her main inspiration was the women in her family – her mother, sister, niece, and herself. The fact that one of the songs was written by the singer’s brother is again an exception that proves the rule.

Although we will see Magalí Sare at the Ibérica festival, associated mainly with flamenco, we won’t hear much of the wild southern Spanish rhythms on her solo release. Not that they aren’t there at all – brisk flamenco riffs accompany the otherwise rather calm vocals in ETC, hints of Andalusian music appear paradoxically in Fernando Pessoa’s Portuguese-sung poem Sempre vens assim, and the usual flamenco clapping appears here and there as an accompaniment. However, the basis of the album is elsewhere. Magalí Sare tells her intimate stories, in which – without necessarily understanding the lyrics – we can recognize melancholy, urgency, and joy in the diction. The singer alternates between several languages – Catalan, Spanish and Portuguese – and just perceiving the natural melody of her words is an experience.

The musical accompaniment is varied yet decent. Its main purpose is to serve the singer, to underscore her moods and illustrate her stories, but at times we feel that it also goes deliberately against her narrative. In the aforementioned ETC track, the accompaniment creates a special tension that is one of the album’s highlights. While on previous albums Magali Sare relied on the collaboration of a guitarist and a double bassist respectively, on the new album we hear both of these instruments as well, but the keyboards are crucial, played by the singer herself. It doesn’t matter whether the acoustic piano or the subtle synthesizer and ambient electronics appear in more songs. In fact, both are ubiquitous throughout the album, and both complete the tasteful sonic package that makes the album easily “digestible” for the more enlightened folkie and the searching electronic music lover. However, just when the listener feels the album is slipping into a (however pleasant) pop sound with the penultimate song Niña mujer, the author surprises them with a beautiful pure vocal punctuation with the song Mater at the end.

Magalí Sare – Esponja; Released by Segell Microscopi 2022. 16 tracks, total time: 44:31

Concert: Magalí Sare & Sebastià Gris, June 17, 2022, Viceroy’s Palace, Brno

Photo by Maria Jett

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