Elsten Torres: Triumphant Waiting for Clouds

Waiting for Clouds
Self Produced
* * * *

Elsten Torres was a mainstay in the 1990s Latin rock scene, but he’s moved over to the acoustic side of the ledger. He also has a few Grammy nominations under his belt and a listen to Waiting for Clouds will quickly reveal why–he has a serious set of pipes that ranges wide. The Cuban-born, New York City-based Torres cites everyone from Billy Joel, Paul Simon, and U2 to both Elvises (Presley and Costello) as influences. You’ll hear hints of that. Torres, for instance, channels a chilled out Bono on “A Perfect World,” but among his gifts is the ability to evoke styles without being derivative. Waiting for Clouds is a confessional and personal album that’s mostly about love gained, lost, or misplaced. Theme albums can become redundant, but Torres dodges that problem by blending and bending genres. “Sitting on Your Throne,” for example, evokes the Lesley Gore hit “I Will Follow Him,” but adds a reggae backbeat; “It’s About Time” is a masala of blues and Stax-style soul; “Bleeding HeartsClub” is akin to a quirky string band; and “Keeping Me waiting,” where hand jive meets rockabilly, moves both physically and emotionally. The project has ten tracks and Torres pays attention to how they stack. “Half-Hearted” is a darker song in content and tone, which he follows with “Through Her Window,” which is shimmery and hopeful. This thoughtfulness also shows up in the decision to place the title track last, as it’s an experiment that listeners will either love or loathe. It opens quiet and mysterious, and Torres slowly unpacks his voice and emotions for an effect that’s at once dramatic, dreamy, and off-kilter. I liked it and you can mark me a new Elsten Torres fan.

Rob Weir

No comments: