With exceptional artistic integrity and independence, the Cuban-Canadian artist Alex Cuba has achieved a remarkable level of success. He makes a genre- and nationality-defying music, runs his own record label from a town 14 hours outside Vancouver, and won both the Latin Grammy for Best New Artist and a Grammy nomination for Best Latin Pop Album, in addition to a heap of critical acclaim, for his most recent album. On his own Caracol Records imprint, he will release the follow-up, Ruido en el Sistema, this October. The first Spanish-language single, “Eres Tu,” will be available on August 7, following the release of the English-language version, “Are You,” this past April.
RUIDO EN EL SISTEMA perfectly reveals Cuba’s artistry, a mix of styles—including rock, pop and funk—he calls “Latin soul.” To be sure, “Latin music” only partially describes his work, which has garnered him at least as many native Anglo as Latino fans, and which began to evolve after he had spent years studying and performing traditional Cuban music.
Cuba made the new album with producer Joby Baker, who has played a key role in Cuba developing his sound, having produced Alex Cuba in 2009 and, before it, Agua del Pozo in 2007. They recorded Ruido en el Sistema at Baker Studios Ltd. in Victoria, BC and the legendary Egrem Studio 101 in Havana, Cuba.
“Are You” / “Eres Tu” epitomizes the Alex Cuba signature: rock guitar; an extraordinary knack for melody, pop hooks, rhythm and vocal phrasing; and balance of edge with hopefulness and spirituality. Cuba’s longtime collaborator Nelly Furtado is featured on the uptempo pop-rocker “Nadie Como Tu,” taking turns singing verses, and contributing harmonies on the choruses. Navigating more acoustic arrangements, such as the title track and “Por Donde Vas,” and the vastly dynamic “Suspiro en Falsete,” the album is just that: an album, which coheres as a single work from start to finish.
Cuba is increasingly beloved by a wide variety of fans and media. His self-titled 2010 release received an NPR First Listen feature, an “Album Of The Week” feature at Jazz FM UK, a KCRW Today’s Top Tune download and airplay on BBC Radio’s “Paul Miller Soul Show,” in addition to reaching the #1 spot on iTunes’ Alternativo/Rock Latino chart.
Among the rave reviews for that album was one in Billboard that said the songs “should be the envy of every commercial Latin artist.” The Huffington Post noted the “unbelievable beauty” of Cuba’s compositions. The San Francisco Chronicle said, “While he's better known in the States as a songwriter, since collaborating with Nelly Furtado on her 2009 Spanish-language album Mi Plan…Cuba is a compelling performer [and] a soulful singer who's forged a singular synthesis of Latin styles, jazz, funk and pop. He’s a rising star.”
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