ENGLISH REVIEWS / by Ana Alcaide

ELSEWHERE - UK - 2014/07

LEER/READ

"...Ethnomusicologists will hear elements of Celtic music and stately medievalism (especially in her vocal pieces), and when I spoke on radio about this I am pretty sure I mentioned her as a one-woman Clannad (check out Y Arrelumbre) or a soundtrack to some tele-series set in Europe's 16th century (Tishri).

Not quite the mature album that La Cantiga del Fuego was obviously, but you do wonder why all music research projects can't be this interesting and made available for the wider world to hear."

SONGLINES – UK – 2013/04

Songlines nº91

Madrid-born Ana Alcaide went to Sweden to stuy biologist and came back to Spain to become a professional musician after falling under the spell of the nyckelharpa (keyed fiddle). She now lives in Toledo and her third album, La Cantiga del Fuego, was composed there during her first pregnancy. It's the first to receive significant international distribution, based on its populatiry in Europe. The title of the albumn comes from a traditional Sephardic song describing a fire that ravaged Thessaloniki in Greece, and it's inspired by the journey of the Sephardic Jews, largely force out of Spain in the 15th century, as well as by the city of Toledo itself. In fact, one track 'El agua del Río' is even part of a permanent exhibit in the Sephardic Museum there.

There is a more widescreen sound than on her earlier albums. Alcaide in joined by guest musicians such as American Bill Cooley, principally on psaltery and oud, an her former teacher Reza Shayesteh, sho sings the closing itune 'Mikdash', with lyrics based on two ancient Persian poems. There's a delicacy throughout that could perhaps be mistaken for reticence, but which actually conjures an elegantly seductive tone that will beguile listeners far from Toledo.

R2 ROCKnREEL– UK – 2013/03

Ana Alcaide is inspired by the music of the Sephardic Jews and her home city of Toledo in Spain; added to this is her high, pure voice and her skill at playing the nyckelharpa, the Swedish fiddle which sounds a little like a hammered dulcimer.

She began recording in 2006 and this is her third album, beautifully packaged and presenting a memorable, haunting amalgan of Spanish, North African, Middle Eastern, Indian, and Celtic influences, with perhaps a slight tinge of a new age, Clannad type of sound and a strong liturgical feel on some tracks.

The music is mostly acoustic and string- based, though with clarinet, accordion, and gaida (eastern European bagpipes) used in one or two places, and the songs themselves draw on venerable themes and legend - all create strong impressions.

fRROTS - UK - 2013 / 02

fROOTS Nº97  

This came our in Spain early in 2012, and by August wap up to numbrer three in the WMCE European world music radio play chart. It's recently risen again to the top ten, presumably because now it's been given wider release via ARC.

Ana Alcaide is a singer and instrumentalist from Toledo, with a particular interest in Sephardic music. Her prime instrument is nyckelharpa which she came across while studing botany at Lund University in Sweden; subsequently she went back to learn more about it, and did a degree at Malmö Academy of Music.

Her singing has a light, airy sweetness that could have become cloying or wifty in the wrong production hands, but there's a mature elegance in the arrangements and production, which are both by Ana Alcaide herself joined by a small, flexible team of musicians, particularly the adaptable Bill Cooley on santur, psaltery, ud, lute and tar and Jaime Muñoz's traditional reeds and flutes. The final couple of tracks feature the singing of Iranian musician Reza Shayasteh of Malmö's World Mix Orchestra. The material, which she sees as being strongly related to the old cultural mix of Toledo, draws primarily on Judeo-Spanish musical and lyrical traditions and her own compositions, with some Persian and Bulgarian influences.

Her 2007 second album Como la Luna y el Sol had good ideas but, I reckoned -perhaps because of over-adherence to click-tracks- it plodded somewhat. With this one Alcaide enters a much more fluent, world-class league.

CITYPAPER – USA – 2013/02

LEER / READ

“…Alcaide’s voice floats and dances effortlessly and seamlessly atop each tune. The songs are brilliantly arranged –one false move and this material could’ve easily taken a wrong turn onto Pretentious Boulevard. And the use of exotic instruments – the oud, Turkish ney, psaltery, lyra, and Alcaide’s own nyckelharpa –is original, innovative and inspired.”

PERCEPTIVE TRAVEL WORLD MUSIC REVIEWS – UK – 2012/12

LEER / READ

“… Although the result is gentle and evocative with a hint of romantic whimsy, any comparisons with the ethereal ear-floss that is Enya should be politely disregarded. Ana Alcaide is very much her own woman and this is a highly enjoyable and original collection.”

ALLMUSIC – USA – 2012/11

LEER / READ

“Her music's often described as the Toledo soundtrack.,. The closest analogue, perhaps, is Loreena McKennitt, and although their areas are very different, there's a distinctly common feel to them… and Alcaide is masterful in her creation of atmosphere. Something different and a musical journey well worth taking.”

WORLD MUSIC CENTRAL– USA – 2012/09

LEER / READ

“Fans of Celtic powerhouse Enya’s early work will likely dip into Spanish singer, songwriter and musician Ana Alcaide and find a reason to rejoice. Hitting the world music charts in Europe at number three with her La Cantiga del Fuego..Writing all of the tracks on La Cantiga del Fuego. ... Cleverly working with a wide range of instrumentation.”

FOLK WORLD – UK – 2012/07

LEER / READ

"Ana Alcaide goes on with her successful fusion between the Nordic sonorities of the nyckelharpa (Swedish keyed fiddle), the Sephardic (Spanish-Jewish) music, and the traditional sounds from several places around the Mediterranean Sea... Ana sings with her beautiful voice while also playing: nyckelharpa, moraharpa, violin, and Celtic harp (this is a pleasant innovation!)… an artist with such an exquisite level of sensibility, this might be a factor to be perceived in the future progress of her fruitful career.”