Recording information: Air Studios, London, England (02/12/2009); Westlake Recording Studios, Los Angeles, CA (02/12/2009); Air Studios, London, England (2009-01-26&2009-01-27&2009-); Westlake Recording Studios, Los Angeles, CA (2009-01-26&2009-01-27&2009-).
A couple years after battling breast cancer and releasing an album inspired by the experience, Vida T¢xica (2007), Luz Casal unveiled La Pasi¢n, an album of boleros that pays tribute to Latin American songwriters of the mid-20th century. From the 1940s up until the 1970s, a lot of Spanish artists fled the right-wing authoritarian regime of Francisco Franco and crossed the Atlantic Ocean to Latin America. While not all of the songs featured on La Pasi¢n are the work of Spanish refugees, they were all written during a period when Spaniards were coming in droves to countries like Argentina and Mexico, and these immigrants, many of them artists, brought their culture with them to the New World. Casal pays tribute to this era with La Pasi¢n, an album of boleros written by Ren‚ Touzet ("Con Mil Desenga¤os"), Maria Grever ("Alma Mia"), Eduardo Magallanes ("Historia de un Amor"), and others, many of whom are obscure. La Pasi¢n was produced by Renaud Letang, a French hitmaker known for his work with Manu Chao, Alain Souchon, and Feist, among others, and the orchestral arrangements were conducted by Eumir Deodato, an industry stalwart who gives the album an air of majesty. Complementing the orchestral arrangements of Deodato are veteran percussionists Alex Acu¤a and Luis Conte, who supply the Latin rhythms that underscore these songs of romantic passion. The 11 songs of La Pasi¢n are performed in a uniform style, and as all of the inclusions are classics to some degree, there isn't a dull moment on this album, which runs for less than 40 minutes. While it's difficult to single out particular highlights, given the consistent excellence of the album, there are a few songs that stand out, namely "Alma Mia," "Historia de un Amor," and "A D¢nde Va Nuestro Amor." As for Casal herself, she sounds as divine as ever and fully at ease with these boleros. All things considered, La Pasi¢n is such an impressive album release that one wishes Casal would release another in this style, a sequel perhaps. ~ Jason Birchmeier