Nelly Furtado I LP I Matt Simons
Corbak Festival/La Chaux-du-Milieu
Caribana Festival / Crans-près-Céligny
It's a unique experience to stroll down the rainy kerbstones of Berlin and suddenly stumble across youthful, Spanish sounds echoing from a loft in the city centre. If you look for the source of the sound, you find Alvaro, surrounded by all sorts of instruments and studio equipment, engaged in his favourite pastime: music. He sits there with his guitar and headphones, surrounded by boxes of percussion instruments.
The Spanish musician Alvaro Soler is 24 years old. As the son of a German and a Spaniard, he grew up multilingually in Barcelona and Tokio and began making music with his brother at an early age. Together, they formed a band and wrote their own songs. "Music was always one of the most important things in my life. Whenever there were times of stress, it felt good to be able to dive headfirst into music."
His path led him to Germany, where he met a Berlin-based producer duo. Spanish temperament meets Berlin's urban flair - Spanish pop with Latin influences meets modernity. Laughing, Alvaro rummages through the boxes beside him. "Suddenly, the two went into a music store and came out with the entire percussion department!" The studio serves as their musical playground, where they find their creative core in percussion, vintage keyboards, guitars, xylophones and lo-fi sounds. Experiments and joint jam sessions resulted in song ideas and the feeling that they were creating something very special.
Alvaro combines Spanish lyrics with fresh, folk melodies. The influences that he has collected from all over the world are clearly noticeable. Even Berlin contributes its typical contemporary vibes. All instruments were recorded live, creating an authentic sound that is both dynamic and organic. "Eterno Agosto" was recorded in Berlin and Barcelona, which gives the whole thing its finishing touches.
"From east to west, under the same sun". The first single, "El mismo sol", unites what music means to Alvaro. It's a catchy, light-footed song that exudes internationality and fun. The rhythm is driven by handclaps and paired with playful guitars, xylophones and a catchy accordion riff. The song, like all other songs on the album, clearly carries Alvaro's signature: summery vibes with an emphasised rhythm. It's significant, it's cool, and above all, it's memorable. The music video for the single, which was filmed in Andalusia, picks up on this tonality. Alvaro sets off alone and travels through the country on his motorcycle. He sings "El mismo sol" everywhere he goes, and the people sing along with him, clapping to the beat of his song and journey.
"Agosto" is the song that gives the album its name. "Eterno Agosto" means "Eternal August". It starts off slowly with an arpeggiated vintage keyboard and a contemplative melody, before flowing into a strong, catchy chorus. "There is nothing more to do. And all that's left of me is myself." In the song, Alvaro tries to come to terms with the pain of a break up. "A relationship of mine fell apart just before August, and the month felt endless. I found it difficult to explain to myself why." Again, the rhythm section forms the core of the song, which is somewhat reminiscent of Manu Chao.
"Esperándote" eventually brings this chapter to a close. "I'll wait for you" is a calm look back on the relationship, without losing hope. It's a quiet song featuring more original, exotic percussion. A captivatingly beautiful melody meets optimistic guitar sounds and creates a very deliberate, clear sound with a sunset flair.
Whether it's fun, up-tempo numbers like "Lucia", or traditional songs like "Cuando Volveras", the album is never low on class or the joy of experimentation. You'll discover more and more new facets, and recognise that "Eterno Agosto" was produced with absolute love for detail. It plays with the genre, revealing its entire spectrum. No song sounds like another, a versatility which is held together by the young Alvaro and his voice.
A particularly striking song on the album is "El Camino" ("The Path"). It's a melancholy song that mainly works by means of a guitar and Alvaro's voice, along with the steady, traditional Spanish bass. It sits somewhere between singer-songwriter music and Latin American folk. A harmonica solo creates some North American vibes. The song is about the different obstacles in life that make you consider whether you're still on the right "path". "I've learned that everything I've been through in my life, no matter how difficult it was, was part of my own path", Alvaro explains. Suitably, "El Camino" is the last track on the album. It looks back and summarises. Extensive violins create an almost cinematically epic mood.
The personal experiences Alvaro chronicles on the album are what make the lyrics, all of which he wrote himself, authentic and his personal stories tangible. For example, he tells of his sister and how much it bothered him that other guys chased after her, sings about women that annoyed him, women that he loved, or just about having a great time and enjoying the moment.
The album will be released this summer with the goal of not only getting the people in Barcelona and Berlin to sing and dance along, but also those in Paris, Stockholm, Rome, Amsterdam New York or Buenos Aires. "Eterno Agosto" is the international soundtrack for this summer. Alvaro himself describes his music as "relaxingly danceable", and with these lyrics and originally-produced catchy songs, nobody is going to have anything against an "Eternal August"...
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