The young Cata­lan singer merges fla­menco and R&B to be­come one of the planet’s most vi­tal pop stars

The Irish Times - Friday - The Ticket - - THE TAKE - NIALLBYRNE


A break­ing fla­menco R&B artist


Cat­alo­nia, Spain


Fla­menco mu­sic isn’t recog­nised glob­ally for its con­tem­po­rary re­leases, but Rosalía Vila isn’t any or­di­nary artist. The Span­ish singer brought a bru­tal­ist in­ten­sity to her per­for­mances of an old art form on her 2017 de­but al­bum, Los An­ge­les. The al­bum fea­tured fin­ger-picked ny­lon guitar by Raül Re­free that was as much of an emo­tion­ally charged whirl­wind as Rosalía her­self, dart­ing from quiet min­i­mal mo­ments to high pas­sion with a beau­ti­ful, fresh voice that made her a star in Spain and put fla­menco on a world stage in a way it hasn’t been for a long time.

Ex­cept, that story isn’t go­ing to be writ­ten. Rosalía hasn’t ditched the genre by any stretch, but the 25-year-old has in­creased her scope and vi­sion to take on R&B and pop sounds that were to­tally ab­sent in her work be­fore now. Ahead of her sec­ond al­bum, El Mal Querer, Rosalía has demon­strated a more con­tem­po­rary style that has her look­ing like one of the most vi­tal pop stars on the planet right now, and she is clearly draw­ing from her eight years study­ing fla­menco in terms of in­ner con­fi­dence. Phar­rell and Pe­dro Almod­ó­var are both work­ing with her soon.

Her two songs so far this year, Mala­mente and Pienso En Tu Mirá pitch them­selves as fla­menco-in­flected R&B songs with hand­clap and fin­ger-click­ing per­cus­sion and a rhyth­mic vi­tal­ity that tran­scends the lan­guage bar­rier. Pro­duc­tion comes from El Guin­cho, a Barcelona elec­tronic pro­ducer who brings a hip-hop beat moder­nity to these songs. As im­pres­sive are the mu­sic videos by famed di­rec­tors Canada, who have made thrilling vis­ual ac­com­pa­ni­ments draw­ing on the iconog­ra­phy of truck­ers, mata­dors and the hooded cofradías of Spain. The videos are sump­tu­ous and de­tailed but it’s Rosalía scar­let vi­brancy that holds the screen.

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