Nella: Voy

Prepare for Takeoff 

Listening Post 229. People on three continents paid to see Nella Rojas sing on stage even before the launch of her splendid debut album, but her first post-release show had a captive audience—passengers on an Iberia Airlines flight from Madrid to Lisbon. Intentional or not, the airborne concert (everyone on the plane got a free CD), was an apt metaphor for a song collection focused on the interval between life’s departures and arrivals, between nostalgia, hope and the elusive present that passes in an instant. Nella grew up on Venezuela’s Margarita Island (which she likens to Narnia), studied voice in Caracas and won a scholarship to Boston’s Berklee College of Music. There she met Javier Limón, Grammy and Latin Grammy-winning Spanish singer-songwriter, producer, and artistic director of Berklee’s Mediterranean Music Institute, who wrote her album’s 13 tracks. Limón was drawn to the endless facets of Nella’s voice—sensual and chaste, smoky and sharp, on the verge of cracking yet forever caressing, assets she applies to a stylistic mist of flamenco and Venezuelan folk, with Cuban breezes and touches of jazz. Venezuela’s memory and its convulsive pains loom large on Voy (On My Way). Separation and aspiration define most of the album’s songs, from the floating title track—“I’ll get lost in the expanse of time/I’ll fly free as the wind” (video 1)—to the poignant Volveré a Mi Tierra (I Will Return to My Homeland, video 2). Mi Ciudad Perdida (My Lost City, video 3) digs for vanished memory and Los Nacidos (Many Born, video 4) explores lost innocence. Among the album’s bewitching love songs, Fin de Fiesta (Party’s End, video 5) stands out for its touching reunion. Now based in New York, and with many arrivals to come, Nella is traveling far—and she’s taking a lot of willing passengers. (Casa Limón America)

Nella: Voy
Nella Rojas: Vocals
Javier Limón: Flamenco guitar, keyboards
Israel Suárez “Piraña”: Percussion
Brigitte Sosa: Bass
Gilad Barakan: Acoustic guitar
Paúl Sánchez: Trumpet
Limón Jr.: Melodica
Carmela Ramírez: Backing vocals
Lucy Clifford: Bass
Isaac Matus: Sequence

Featuring
Ilan Chester: Vocals
Alba Molina: Vocals
Jorge Glem: Venezuelan cuatro
Santiago Periné: Charango

Note. Nella received the Best New Artist award at the 20th annual Latin Grammy Awards, held Nov. 14, 2019, in Las Vegas.

 

Voy / On My Way
Lyrics & Music: Javier Limón

(from the Spanish lyrics)
There are no friends left to say bye to/
There’s not a single book left to rewrite
There are neither nights of wine nor dawn/
Nor your clothes to pick up from the floor

There are no blank letters left to burn/
Nor sea, nor beach, nor boat to sail
No date on the calendar to celebrate/Our old radio stopped working

I’m going, toward my solitude/
I’m going, leaving everything behind
I’m walking slowly but I’m patient/I go slowly but with determination

I’m going, toward my solitude/
I’m going, leaving everything behind
I give everything I have, my singing is brave/I say what I think, in my own way

They will remember the words of my song/They will remember every note my voice gave
And I’ll get lost in the expanse of time/
I’ll fly free as the wind

 

Volveré a Mi Tierra / I Will Return to My Homeland*
Lyrics & Music: Javier Limón

I walk around New York very slowly/
In a hurried  world my steps are unrushed
I don’t know where people are going or where they are coming from/But I know where I’m going, and where I am from

There, the white clothes dance restless/We would greet each other on our way back home
We would sing together around the table/
And little by little life went by

I will return to my homeland/To wander on its streets, to feel the sand under
 my feet
I will return to my homeland/Great Venezuela, beloved and eternal
I will return to my homeland/
To sing to the sea 
and to the full moon
I will return to my homeland/
Where my people are brave and awakened

Prisons of paper, faces with no names/
Living in a past that shatters today
There will come a light to illuminate us forever/While I sing to the sky that never lies

* The video presents a Who’s Who of Venezuela’s artistic diaspora—actors, writers, singers, composers, musicians, filmmakers, visual artists, journalists, etc. Among the personalities featured are Ana María Simon, Mariaca Semprún, Prakriti Maduro, Jean Paul Leroux, Pastor Oviedo, Dayana Mendoza, Ana Carmela Ramírez, Linda Briceño, Carla Baratta, Carlos Bisdikian, Damián Suárez, Erich Wildpret, Federica Arévalo, Franco Tintori, Glennys Colina, Jimmy Quijano, Johana Haussmann and Penélope Sosa.

 

Mi Ciudad Perdida / My Lost City
Lyrics & Music: Javier Limón

Cities of sand and stone/Paradises of cement
So fast from outside/
So still from inside

Cities of rain and crystal/
And armies singing
They don’t know where they are going/But they keep walking

Cities that don’t have a name yet/Already building their walls
Vanities of some man/
To feed his ego

Cities without heart/With a soul of steel
Cities that are not like/Those of José Alfredo

But I have you
You are my lost city where the sky is made of carmine/And your body is my avenue
In the corner of your mouth/
Where I find you dancing
And I stay forever/Tangled up in your lips

Cities of green paper/Infinite buildings
Multitudes come and go/Always more poor than rich

Cities without an old plaza/Neither market nor fountain
Always a new experience/Never with the same people

 

Los Nacidos / Many Born
Lyrics & Music: Javier Limón

The books were born blank
/Empty of light or verbs
Somebody drew a dress/
Made of words in verse

The tragedy was born mute/
In absolute solitude
Somebody performs it now/
With a serious, firm and strong voice

The crazy were born sane
/The apprentice was born a fool
Of the many who are born/Only a few get this far

Now I have you/
I, who was born so lonely
Cannot imagine myself without you/Or you with someone else

Now if you leave/
I’d rather not have been born
It would be like dancing/
Out of rhythm

The apple was born green/
The wide river was born mud
A puppy, and then a herd/
Born the wolf, born the cold

The dawn was born faint/
The storm was born as a drop
The woman was born a girl/The cloth was born smooth

The mud was born as sand and water/
The sad one was born happy
Of the many born/Only a few get this far

 

Fin de Fiesta / Party’s End
Lyrics & Music: Javier Limón

One of those tales with no ending/
My voice remembers it today
It’s the story of a poor folksinger/Who never made it

He wandered from town to town/And left his life in the cafés
A song was worth three pesetas/
And now this couplet for a bulería

The night of the blackout/
Only three or four candles lit the room
Between songs/
The humble folksinger could barely see
And suddenly she came in
Source of serene light/Eternal immortal sin

Mute, I will never sing
If it’s not for this woman/
I am only a sea of silence

Time passed cold and fast/And he found fortune and class
A respected and noble man
/He made himself loved, he lived large

He used to go to a cafe every night/
To listen to the artists
Renowned as a flattering rogue/An unfaithful lover and a good lyricist

Another stormy night/
Only an oil lamp lit the Austrias’ Cafe
Suddenly something happened/
A still dancer, as if half hypnotized

They saw each once again/
He was quiet, she immobile
There was no misery this time/
More wrinkles, and more love
They ended up together/At the end of the party

 

 


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s