Calle Real`s debut CD "Con Fuerza" is the culmination of a seven-year journey that has taken the band from Buena Vista Social Club style son group to a Timba band with a sello diferente. The band today consists of ten musicians, but the CD features the participation of several previous members who have moved on to other projects as well as many invitados, for a total of 21 people beyond the regular band members. The name Calle Real immediately takes your thoughts to the streets, and the CD has some interesting moments where they have included recordings from the streets of Cuba, to underline the fact that while the band is Swedish, La Habana is their inspiration.
The instrumentation of the group is typical for Timba: drums with timbal, congas, güiro, piano and synth, bass (baby and electric), trombones and trumpet, and the sound of the band is rounded off with tres. There is only one lead singer, Thomas Eby, while trombonist/güirero Karl Frid and tresero Patricio Sobrado sing coro. Thomas has a tenor voice with a light timbre that makes him instantly recognizable, even on the coros.
Their music is hard-driving Timba, including excellent piano tumbaos, and plenty of gear changes that let you get your despelote on, an essential part of Timba for me. The inclusion of the tres adds another dimension to the guajeos, and although this instrumentation leads one to think of Revé, the band doesn`t sound like Revé. In fact, they don`t quite sound like anyone else. There is a swing or a groove that is very distinctive throughout the entire album; fast songs and slow songs alike. For me it is this heavy groove that characterizes the CD. I saw the band perform recently at a youth center and the young people were dancing, not casino, but they were all able to dance to the songs, and I think this groove is what makes it possible.
Honestly I enjoy the album so much that it is hard to pick favorite songs. The mark of a good CD is when you don`t have to skip any songs to get to the ones you like best. Con Fuerza contains 12 songs: eleven are timba, one is son.
6. Soy Bueno, Soy Malo (La Rosa)