Water in your pockets

January 20, 2014

The Basque Maite Larburu and the American Josh
Cheatham are the protagonists of this disc. They both live in Amsterdam. Larburu
is a violin player and Cheatham plays the viola da gamba and double bass-, and
they have gone on to pursue their careers in many early music groups and Baroque
music and chamber music orchestras. Larburu has been a member of De Nederlandse
Bachvereniging, the Amsterdam Baroque Orchestra, Anima Eterna, the Orquesta
Barroca de Sevilla and the Holland Baroque Society –with the latter we can see
her in the short film Zela Trovke by Asier Altuna , premièred at the last
Donostia-San Sebastian International Film Festival, and in which she performs
an 11th century Slovakian song-. Cheatham’s curriculum includes the Capriccio
Stravagante Orchestra, the Nederlands Bach Society, the Chanticleer for Teldec
and many others.

But in this case both musicians have put their professional instruments on one side
(although not completely) and are offering us a collection of songs based
almost exclusively on the convincing, approachable voice of Larburu and the
arpeggiated guitar sound of Cheatham. It is popular singer-songwriter music
that feeds off folk, blues, Brazilian music, jazz and traditional song. Larburu
wrote the songs, and Cheatham set them to music using not only the guitar, but
also instruments far removed from western music like the shakuhachi (the Japanese
flute), the sarangi (an instrument from India), or the shruti box (likewise of
Indian origin).

To some extent one is struck by the naturalness,
freedom and personality that this couple transmits in this their first work. Yet
the influences are there. In these 14 evocative numbers sung in Basque, English
and Spanish we can pick out traces of Leonard Cohen, Joni Mitchel and Astrud
Gilberto, among others. But it is perhaps in the songs of greater hypnotic
power in which the special, daring nature of Neighbor is more evident;
inhabitants of a neighbourhood that is not a bad place at all to settle down

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