Healer

Alex Cuba

Caracol Records, 2015

http://healer.alexcuba.com

REVIEW BY: Tom Haugen

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 02/15/2017

Though he may not be a household name in the States (yet), Cuban-Canadian singer-songwriter Alex Cuba has made quite a name for himself both north and south of the U.S. Cuba has won Juno Awards in both 2006 and 2008 and also won the 2010 Latin Grammy in the category of Best New Artist. This 2015 album, Healer, also escalated Cuba's status, as he earned a Latin Grammy Award for Best Singer-Songwriter Album as well as a nomination for Best Latin Pop Album.

While this is a bilingual album (Spanish and English, and on occasion, both in the same song), Cuba's unique brand of guitar focused and international folk work is full of vocal harmonies so memorable, the language being spoken becomes irrelevant. This disc also features appearances from David Myles, Kuba Oms, Alejandra Ribera, Anya Marina, and Ron Sexsmithmy_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

“Vale Todo” starts the album off with a folksy, acoustic driven tune, utilizing a strong, memorable chorus before the laidback and dance friendly “Realidad Que No Escogimos Mast,” which moves by with an island breeze and a soulful, sexy feel. “Sarah,” a fan favorite from the album, brings things back to basics, as Cuba's explores his wide vocal range in this song about his wife. With mostly an acoustic guitar (his band provids sbacking vocals and handclaps), it's one of the best moments on an album with nothing but high points.

The middle is stuffed with plenty of greatness, including the upbeat and warm “Brindo” and probably the most pop-oriented offering here, the duet “In 1 2 3 4” with David Myles. A bright, fun song with a simple, irresistible chorus, it's a track that could easily sit on the FM dial. Cuba then extends this pop idea into the club friendly “Ni Forma Ni Colores” before going the opposite direction into the light percussion on the moving ballad “Contigo.”

Cuba delivers plenty of treats near the end, too. “Beautiful Mistake” with Alejandra Ribera is a seductive and sleek pop duet, and fellow Canadian Kuba Oms contributes on the snappy, upbeat pop-rock anthem “Everytime.” However, as good as these songs are, they pale in comparison to “Half A Chance” with the legendary Ron Sexsmith. Cuba and Sexsmith's smooth vocals complement each other and they turn in a bilingual masterpiece.

It's not at all surprising that Cuba has received so many awards and nominations; his songs seem to flow effortlessly and with an impact that resonates long after the music stops. If this fifth album is any indication, this is a talent we all will be hearing more about in the future.

Rating: A

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