Love Songs of the Americas-- Mili Bermejo

Mili Bermejo was born in Argentina but raised in Mexico, before journeying to Boston to study at the Berklee College of Music in 1980. So it seems logical that she would sing in Portuguese, Spanish, and English. Actually, her CDs have found her singing in English only sporadically, and she is somewhat less effective in that tongue, perhaps in part because the other two languages are innately more elegant, graceful, and sensual. On Love Songs of the Americas, Bermejo only sings "To Say Goodbye" and "I've Never Been in Love Before" in English. Regardless, she always sings with conviction, urgency, and genuine feeling.

The 12 selections on Love Songs of the Americas cover the gamut of the theme of love. The enclosed excerpts in English of the lyrics reveal a focus on love of the natural world in "Paserero," "Noche," and "Gringa Chaqueña," lovers parting in "To Say Goodbye" and "Te Abracé en la Noche," eternal love in "Te Amaré," spiritual love in "Pura Belleza," positive love in "Tú," hurtful love in "Fuimos," fleeting love in "La Luz de un Fósforo," and the physical love of "Mais Que a Paixao."

Bermejo's vocals are much enhanced on certain tracks by the 10-piece Berklee World Strings, conducted and directed by Eugene Friesen, who also performs brilliantly throughout on cello and as a backup voice. Tim Ray's piano and Dan Greenspan's bass round out the supporting cast. Friesen, Ray, and Greenspan (Bermejo's husband) all prove to be formidable soloists during the course of the CD.

Possibly Bermejo would have a wider audience if she sang primarily in English, but it's unlikely that many would question the easeful artistry with which she has long interpreted songs originally written in Portuguese and Spanish. After all, these compositions reflect her musical, societal, and cultural roots. Love Songs of the Americas is just the latest worthwhile chapter in her odyssey.

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Scott Albin