The Spanish singer Lara Bello is one of the more inventive artists I have encountered in New York. Her album Niña Pez was an amalgam of jazz, singer-songwriter folk, flamenco, alternative rock and Middle Eastern vocals. In the title figure she created a sort of alter ego for her own persona. Bello is a storyteller, a cultural voyager, a dancer-vocalist who borrows from both Iberian and Arabic traditions.
On stage she is an open and charismatic presence, with a meticulous intelligence. Thursday night at DROM was the U.S. release of her newest CD, Primero amarillo después malva (“First Yellow Then Mauve”). The songs are all original and represent world music, or fusion, of the best, most unforced sort, which, rather than poaching on other cultures, recuperates and acknowledges roots and sources already present and influential in one’s own.
And so in the voice of this raven-haired native of Granada one hears the sandstorms of the Sahara and sees in her hands the intricate fingers of Indian temple dance. There is flamenco in her footwork, belly dance in her torso, and in her throat a call to prayer. What she does is admirable, and of great beauty, integrity, and generosity.