An irresistible and vibrant dance form, bachata calls people of all ages to dance to its infectious rhythms. Originally from the Dominican Republic, bachata’s popularity has rippled out to Latin America, the USA and beyond. Filling the soul with impassioned lyrics of love and betrayal, this album features some of the finest bachateros and is bursting with dynamic rhythms and beautiful guitar arpeggios.
'It's quintessentially sunny music: you can't feel blue when these singers let rip over their simple acoustic accompaniment, which is mostly just guitar and percussion. There are some lovely voices here, the men's lying high, and women's displaying admirable edge.' Independent On Sunday, UK 3***stars
Artists include – Antony Santos, Teodoro Reyes, Raulín Rodríguez, Luis Vargas, Yoskar Sarante, Zacarías Ferreira, Yoan Soriano, Joe Veras, Monchy & Alexandra, Frank Reyes and Elvis Martínez
All the romance of skittish guitars and rasping guiros
Bachatas are almost as distinctive as that other Dominican style, merengue, but their lead instrumental voice is the electric guitar, and the rhythms are skippier and more sensuous. The appeal of the ‘Dominican blues’ lies in its universal tales of lost, failed or disappointed love. Accompanying rhythms are spelled out in splashy cymbal beats, jaunty bass-lines and pulses from a scraped wooden guiro, and the singing guitar melodies are delicately picked and distinctively jangley and metallic, often shimmering and rippling like compas music from neighbouring Haiti or like Congolese soukous. Yoskar Sarante sings to his guitar in a pleading, high voice, asking it to carry messages to his lover; most of the voices (mostly male) are poignant high tenors.
Bachata rose from a low-class, outcast style in the late 80s, with Juan Luis Guerra’s astonishingly successful songs, and echoes of Guerra inevitably pepper the collection – particularly in the case of quintessential bachatero Antony Santos. Joe Veras’s hit, ‘Cartas de Verano’, about a lover sending cards from abroad, resonates with so many economic migrants in the US. ZacharÍas Ferreira’s seductively husky tone in ‘El Avispa’ (wasp) is filled with bachata bitterness about love. The sole female here, Alexandra, sings a romantic, low-key bachata ballad with Monchy, while Elvis Martínez’s serpiente (serpent) style, which emphasizes the bass-lines, has the guitar chattering like teeth. These pioneering translators of lovelorn poetry into irresistible dance music, have witnessed this gorgeous style spread through Latin America and even, surprisingly, into the grittier reggaeton.
Sue Steward l
(from Songlines # 39)