lúas de outubro e agosto
Mention "Celtic lands," and chances are good few will mention Galicia–a northwestern region of Spain that bleeds into northern Portugal. That is unless you come from there, like Guadi Galego, who has devoted much of her musical career exploring its tunes and singing in the Galician language–an Indo-European Romance language that includes Celtic and Germanic vocabulary. For 18 years Galego played bagpipes and sang with Berroguito, an important regional Celtic-influenced band. These days, though, Galego is as apt to champion activist feminism as Celtic culture. For her second solo album, Galego takes up the cause of Galician mothers, whom she views as trapped within a capitalist, patriarchal, macho model of maternity. She's also expanded her musical palette on an album that freely mixes folk melodies, pop rhythms, jazzy torch singing, and arrangements that skirt the borders of theatricality–sometimes within the same song.
The album title translates "Moons of October and August" and pays tribute to the months in which she gave birth to her two sons. Those boys better grow up to be feminists, as Galego puts that spin on everything everywhere. "Matriarchas" was written as homage to the three Mirabal sisters murdered in 1960 for their opposition to Dominican dictator Rafael Trujillo. (Dominicans often view this as a key moment in the slow transition to democracy. Trujillo was assassinated in 1961, just five months later.) It's one of Galego's hybridized tunes, one that begins quietly and mournfully, but she uses the considerable power of her voice to build it, add instruments and voices to the mix, and increase the drama. The album's opening track, "Merguillei," is similar in feel—quiet, then big. Is it folk? Pop? More the latter, I think, and that too is intentional. Galego has particular affinity for working women–the ones often pressured to find an impossible balance between work, parenthood, and an outside life that she insists includes the disco. Her drum-looped "Chea de Vida" and "Aromas de Terra" are so much in the pop vein that were they in English you might think them lifted from Robyn's dance club repertoire. But then what does one make of gentle songs such as "Pernoctei" or "O Muro," the first what you might get if you crossed smoky jazz with a flamenco singing; and the latter soulful and subdued? The last song translates "O Wall," and that's perhaps the best way to think of this album. Ms. Galego is no respecter of boundaries, including those dictated by men, commerce, or musical genres.