Personnel: Albita (vocals, guitar, percussion); Yalil Guerra (guitar, tres, piano, bass); Onel Mulet (saxophone); William Polledo, Francisco Gambiero (trumpet).
Recorded in RYCY Studios, Miami, Florida.
Personnel: Albita (guitar, claves, guiro, maracas); Fernando Pina (drums, congas, bongos).
Recording information: RYCY Studios, Miami, FL.
Photographer: Gio Alma.
Arrangers: Rafael Mari¤o; Albita.
Albita made her reputation as a singer of political Cuban nueva cancion music. But along the way she's recorded in plenty of different styles, and even abandoned her native land in favor of life in the U.S., which had a great effect on her popularity at home. What she's never really done before is expose her inner life in song. Hecho a Mano corrects that, stripping down her sound to the point where she's accompanied by a small, simple group, with her guitar and vocals very much front and center on material from her own pen (she also produced the disc). It's as autobiographical as it's possible to get, explaining her belief in Santeria on "La Magia De Ochun" and "Andan Diciendo Por Ahi," and becoming emotional on the moving bolero "Yo Quisiera." But it's all done without the histrionics that had been a hallmark of her earlier work. The band works supply behind her, heightening her son and timba material with an easy grace. The highlight of the whole album, though, has to be "Son Sin Concepto," a blistering harangue on the Cuban politics in Miami that veers between a lovely melody and an edgy rapped chorus to make a very complete track -- albeit one whose subject matter seems slightly out of place against the rest. But this, you have to feel, is the album she's wanted to make for years (some of the material dates back to the mid-'80s). And it doing so, she's created an artistic triumph ~ Chris Nickson