If your impressions of flamenco music are furious guitars, fast dancing, castanets and flashy costumes – well, you’re partly right. That’s a pretty fair description of flamenco dancing. But flamenco is also a soulful, emotional style of singing native to Spain – cante flamenco – and Mayte Martín is one of its top singers today.

I’ve been completely captivated recently by her understated new recording,  alCANTARaMANUEL on World Village music. It’s lyrical, poetic, and purely powerful. Martín has a supreme sensitivity to the nuances of language and phrasing, which works especially well with the  material on this recording – alCANTARaMANUEL features Martín’s own musical settings of poetry by early/mid-20th c. Spanish poet Manuel Alcántara.

I’m  always interested in looking at other folks’ year-end “best albums” lists, but I’m cautious about creating my own because it seems so completely and pointlessly subjective. How can I say what’s best, when I haven’t hear everything that’s come out in a given year? But I will say, when it comes to this new recording – it is unquestionably one of my favorites for this year.

To learn a little more about her, check out this interview with Mayte Martin . And DO get your hands (ears) on a copy of her new recording as soon as you can, it’s a real treasury of beautiful sound and expression.

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