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Friday, Dec. 8, 2006


Xiomara "Xiomara"

Nueva Trova ("new ballad") is Cuba's latest contribution to world music. One of the best of the new singers of these ballads is Havana-born Xiomara Laugart, whose debut presents the musical equivalent of slow food -- calm and seductive, the contrast with wilder dance music such as timba could not be more striking. Xiomara's voice has a self-assertiveness that contrasts with the aggressive power of dance-band singers. Though she does belt out her feelings openly, she does so with an unhurried grace.

Xiomara's passion draws as much from Cuban folk music as the upbeat sound of her former band, Yerba Buena, or Los Van Van, several of whose songs she gives a lovely acoustic treatment to. Recorded with precision and clarity, Laugart's voice sparkles whether singing (always in Spanish) with just an acoustic guitar or rollicking over crisp percussion and a small band. "Xiomara" is a lyrical Latin gem.

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