EGREM Records
Cuba, timba

El Niño y la Verdad’s 2018 album De vuelta al barrio recently took home the prize in the dance music category at the 2019 CubaDisco record-industry awards.

El Niño y la Verdad are a formidable live band; I was fortunate enough to see the band perform a blistering matinee recently at the Casa de Musica in Havana. Their tremendous live energy translates very well to the recording studio.

The title, “back to the neighbourhood“, is a loose theme that bookends the recording and so things start on topic with a short and infectious intro track featuring clapped guaguancó parts, a catchy vocal choro and sounds ‘of the neighbourhood’. Things head from there further down the guaguancó path with the second track, La Princesa de Cayo Hueso, which changes gears into casino-ready territory and really heats up over the course of its 5 minutes.

The third track, El Primo is deceptive – on its surface an exquisitely happy pop song, it poses some fairly complex rhythmic challenges for salseros. El Primo is followed by another excellent track, Las Manzanas, which, while not near as mind-bendingly complicated in terms of rhythm, the song nevertheless features some fearsome rhythmic efectos (aka the confounding rhythm section breaks that make timba so tricky and exhilarating) and is unnervingly fast – at the very least this one will cause you to break a good sweat.

You may already be well familiar with the sixth track, La Cosa Mala, which is as wickedly catchy, and which could be heard everywhere in Havana in spring 2019.

There’s also a very nice cha cha, Cha Pa’ Mi Muchacha.

The quality doesn’t let up right through to the end of the album – De vuelta al barrio is a phenomenal listen from start to finish, and I would strongly encourage any salsa fans to spend some time with it.