This appeared on January 7, 2022 in the supplement “Sermos Galiza” of Nós daily


A candid misunderstanding

There is a tendency to stand firm when hearing the word poetry: it takes many years of counting syllables and learning to distinguish the chorus from the leixaprén (1). When music meets poets, the propensity is the same: solemnity and very little humor. We have a very academic concept of literature and changing perspectives can be a very healthy and stimulating exercise. Seriousness is not incompatible with freshness and joy; not even with irreverence or impudence.

Fran Amil (Os Papaqueixos, Os Diplomáticos de Monte Alto, Os Tres Trebóns, Chuches Amil) divests himself of all protocol to approach an anthology of Galician poetry that, to begin with, denotes a personal taste that moves away from the most obvious choices. There is “Negra Sombra” and “Rosa das Rosas”, but there are also pieces that are rarely used by music such as “Pena da roca” by Leiras Pulpeiro, “Coma brasas” by Xosé María Díaz Castro, “San Martiño” by Antón Tovar or “ Give me life” from Avilés de Taramancos.

But beyond the repertoire, what is truly interesting is the demonstration that the poem fills all kinds of music with content. Or that pop can continue to play naive while throwing depth charges, emphasizing depth less and focusing more on charge. Perhaps there is a bagpipe solo that changes the way we see “Negra sombra”, or a combination of choirs that result in the joy of summer in “Candeloria”, by Amado Carballo.

Perhaps the irreverent funky of “Negra sombra” or “Ondas do mar de Vigo” is the most dazzling, but there is much to hear in the heavy blues of “Pena da roca”, in the rock treatment of “Mentres canto”, or in the ballad that “Dásme a vida” becomes. Sometimes it only takes three minutes to change the point of view from which a poet is contemplated.

“Popsia” has a youthful spirit and mature joy. He resorts to pop to filter lyrical emotions, hiding behind the enthusiasm that there are other worlds but that they are in that music. And since he wants to be frank, he goes for a clean production in which everything shines without artifice, clearly showing the work of the musicians: Paco Cerdeira on guitars, Álex Salgueiro on piano, Richi Casás on horns, Antón Torroncho on bass. , choirs by Carmen Rey and Ángeles Dorrio.

That seemingly innocent cleanliness suits pop well. And it doesn’t hurt the lyrics, even though times are always bad for her. Perhaps that meeting of the two genres has something of that spirit of “Xabarín” that adults ended up watching, of the carefreeness of simply having fun, without taking into account that deep down the poem can lurk.

1.- Leixaprén is a poetic resource of the Galician-Portuguese poetry consisting of the repetition of one or several words of a verse at the beginning of the following verse, or of the last verse of a stanza in the first of the following stanza; it can also consist of the repetition of the second line of a stanza in the first line of the previous stanza.

Pepe Cunha talks about “Popsía” in Abrete de orellas

Fran Amil «Popsia. Volume 1″

The songs extracted from verses or poems are usually accompanied by a certain aura of solemnity or seriousness. At least that must have motivated Coruña musician Fran Amil (Os Papaqueixos, Os Diplomáticos de Monte Alto, Os Tres Trebóns, Ultraqans, Chuches Amil…) to offer us an unprejudiced and stimulating alternative that brings the classics of Galician lyric music to danceable pop rhythms, soul, rock or funky… And he also does it without forgetting our roots, as he himself points out: «With the choice of the musical wave that we offer in these compositions, we seek the crossbreeding with the roots of Galician music».

As a whole, he manages to take the most playful part of the lyric and bring it closer to young people and families with round songs impregnated with popular sounds of the last decades. That yes, free of the varnish of reggaeton, trap or autotune, with a brilliant and clean production where it is easy to appreciate the work of each of the solvent musicians that participate: Paco Cerdeira on guitars, Richi Casás on winds, Antón Torroncho on bass, choirs by Carmen Rey and Ángeles Dorrio, Álex Salgueiro on piano…

Probably the funky “Negra sombra” by Rosalía de Castro or the cantiga de amigo “Ondas de San Simón” by Mendinho are, because they are popular, the examples that first attract attention due to their jubilant tone, but once we get into the wave of the disc we will enjoy the more or less rock treatment of «Pena da roca» (Leiras Pulpeiro), «Mentres canto» (Celso Emilio Ferreiro) or «Coma brasas» (Xosé María Díaz Castro), reggae in «Rosa das Rosas» (Afonso X O Sabio), soul in “Aleluya” (Valle Inclán), the ballad “Dásme a vida” (Avilés de Taramancos) or the pop of “Candeloria” (Amado Carballo) and “San Martiño” by Antón Tovar.

Pepe Cunha, January 5, 2022