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World Music CD Reviews Greater Latin America

ALBITA

By Marty Lipp
Published March 3, 2006

Hecho a Mano
Silva Screen/Times Square

A willful and passionate performer, Albita first broke free of Cuban pop, then of Castro, then of the Estefans. Now based in Miami, Albita has made a deeply felt album that she apparently was driven to make in her own way—writing, arranging and producing it herself. Albita began her trajectory in Cuba, revitalizing rural guajira musical styles that were dismissed at the time as a kind of hick music, but she quickly became an international star. At the height of her popularity, she defected to the U.S. and soon fell in with Gloria Estefan and her producer husband Emilio, who created a couple of notable pop-oriented albums with her. Garnering acclaim and critical notice, Albita went her own way, turning away from the electrified Latin pop that she seemed to be heading toward.

Her latest is still vibrant, if not electric. Though she appears on the cover alone with an acoustic guitar, the music inside is not just guitar-and-vocal. She plays with a small combo, in cabaret-intimate arrangements, but her singing is still impassioned and fiery.

Always an interesting performer, Albita has created a personal album that may not get her to the top of the Latin charts but certainly will thrill her core fans, who love her for her white-hot intensity.