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Havana Carbo: Phantoms of Love

Dan McClenaghan By

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On "Tarde Triste," the opening track of Phantoms of Love, the Cuban-American vocalist sounds as relaxed, genuine, and comfortable in her own skin as can be. The singer's search for beauty and tranquility is worn on her sleeve, as it was on her Luna De Varadero (CAP, 2004). This set is crafted to perfection with spare and gentle arrangements, augmented by understated string productions that add to the lilting and reflective quality of this, Carbo's fifth recording.

"Poinciana" flows smoothly, with Oriente Lopez's flute intertwined with Carbo's flawlessly cool delivery, crafting an atmosphere that makes this standard feel like an intimate conversation between singer and listener. "Que Reste-T-Il De Nos Amours" features an arrangement with a bit of bounce behind Carbo's honey-smooth, heartfelt delivery.

Carbo tells stories with an acceptance of life's joys and tragedies. "Adios Felicidad," gorgeously arranged, features Carbo at her most intimate, with a hushed and conversational delivery. These are her songs; she makes them so. Oriente Lopez, on piano here, adds a brief and wistful keyboard solo, hinting at hope in an otherwise melancholy tune.

Phantoms of Love is a set of remarkable cohesion and beauty. With Carbo's deft song choices—and forthright Spanish, English and Portugese vocals that sound wise, mature, and accepting of life's vagaries—and her always lovely and uncluttered arrangements, the singer has come up with a winning effort. A gorgeous, late-night, lights out listening experience.

Track Listing: Tarde Triste; The Shining Sea; Poinciana; Tres Palabras; Possesso; Canto Triste; Que Reste-t-il de nos Amours; Retrato em Branco e Presto; La Valse des Lilas; Adios Felicidad; Llanto de Luna, Nosotros; Maybe September; Epilogue.

Personnel: Havana Carbo: voice; Dario Eskenazi: piano, keys (1-3, 5-7, 9, 12); Leo Traversa: electric bass (1 ,3, 6, 7,); Oriente Lopez: flute (1, 3, 6, 9), piano (4, 5, 10, 11, 13); Vince Cherico: drums; Sean Smith: acoustic bass (2, 4, 9, 10); Jack Pezanelli: guitar (3); Oscar Feldman: alto saxophone (4, 5), tenor saxophone (12); Lino Fernandez: bongo, congas (4, 10): Pablo Aslan: acoustic bass (5); Helio Albes: piano (8); Nilson Matta : acoustic bass (8, 11); Gabriel Machado: Bongo, congas (11).

Title: Phantoms of Love | Year Released: 2010 | Record Label: MODL

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