Eliana Cuevas, Seré Libre Review
by J. Pepper
Toronto-based, multi-award-winning vocalist Eliana Cuevas embarks on a riveting sonic-cinematic journey with her album Seré Libre via Alma Records. This album sees Cuevas exploring her roots and pushing the boundaries of Venezuelan music, enlivening her original repertoire with imaginative orchestral versions. Seré Libre, her first collaboration with the newly-formed Angel Falls Orchestra, boasts the musical prowess of 27 of Toronto’s finest classical musicians, all under the masterful direction of JUNO Award-winning pianist Jeremy Ledbetter.
Seré Libre, the most ambitious project of Cuevas’ career, is more than just an album—it’s a worldwide premiere accompanied by a stunning visual performance with the Angel Falls Orchestra, to be presented in Dolby Atmos Immersive audio. The album, which was recorded live off the floor, is a testament to the musicians’ raw talent and technical abilities. Further elevating the compositions and musicianship, Thom Varey directed the production at the Richmond Hill Centre for the Performing Arts, with audio engineers Justin Gray and Patric McGroarty ensuring a refined, immersive sound experience.
“Alegria” ushers in the album with Cuevas’ crystalline voice, accentuated by the percussion section. The clarity of her tone and precise diction will immediately captivate you. As the band joins in, the sonic landscape broadens, creating a symphony that supports and enhances Cuevas’ lead. The composition shines with added backing vocals in the chorus, further accentuating Cuevas’ compelling delivery. The ensemble’s performance is exquisite, with intelligent orchestration that spotlights Cuevas’ evocative vocal timbre. The closing non-lyric vocal melody echoes with a power that leaves a lasting impression, a testament to Cuevas’ ability to convey emotion through her voice.
“A Tear On The Ground” unveils a mysterious descending piano figure, setting the stage for Cuevas’ vocals. Cuevas is singing in English this time and maintains her impeccable tone and diction, establishing a solid connection with her audience. The non-lyric melody during the B section intensifies the energy, demonstrating her versatility as both a vocalist and a musical instrument. The captivating interlude paves the way for another strong performance by the ensemble, further showcasing the harmonious synergy between Cuevas and the orchestra. This track also exemplifies Cuevas’ exceptional compositional skills, all enhanced by Jeremy Ledbetter’s astute arrangement.
Seré Libre is not just the latest addition to Cuevas’ impressive discography; it’s a passionate celebration of her culture and heritage and a profound exploration of many personal and social themes. Each song conveys Cuevas’ deep understanding of her craft and an unwavering dedication to authenticity in her singing. The album weaves a rich tapestry of expressive narratives, each song a testament to Cuevas’ outstanding vocal abilities, all expertly arranged by Jeremy Ledbetter’s intricate and supportive arrangements. The collaboration with the Angel Falls Orchestra adds a resonant depth, creating a soundscape as grand as it is intimate. Seré Libre isn’t just an album; it’s a heartfelt celebration of Cuevas’ Venezuelan roots, an exploration of her personal journey, and a testament to her extraordinary singing. This is an album that transcends genres and boundaries, marking a significant milestone in Cuevas’ career.