El Cantador – “Pilgrims”

El Cantador - Translation Wave

Alabama-based alternative trio El Cantador recorded their new album, Translation Wave, at the Mary C. O’Keefe Cultural Center of Arts and Education in Ocean Springs, MS, where the band took full advantage of their studio and theater rooms during a six-day residency. As El Cantador explains, they were “free to explore their sound within high ceilings and stairwells in one of the coast’s most richly and artistically diversified areas.” The result is their best yet, a beauteous collection of songs that shows their growth from straightforward Americana/alternative fusions into a sound that balances elaborate composition with graceful natural atmosphere. Heath Underwood’s voice packs a sonorous edge similar to Jim James’, whose ability to alternate between delicate croons and high-powered yelps continues to inspire. His tone is somewhere between James and Chris Martin. This range is shown nicely on “Pilgrims”, the album’s closing track. Melancholic acoustic and electric interplay develops into a soaring mid-section, where Underwood sings “You say goodnight. Was it the first time? Was it for? Had enough? You say goodbye. Makes it the first lie.” Short sentences, sure, but plenty of raw emotional depth.


Mike Mineo

I'm the founder/editor of Obscure Sound, which was formed in 2006. Previously, I wrote for PopMatters and Stylus Magazine.

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