Album Review: Cecilia Zabala’s ‘The Color of Silence’ Is a Sensuous and Mysterious Excursion

Playing acoustic, seven-string Spanish, and requinto guitars, Cecilia Zabala weaves a tapestry of tango rhythms, jazz progressions, and Argentine folk melodies on The Color of Silence.
Cecilia Zabala playing acoustic guitar

Cecilia Zabala
The Color of Silence
(Acoustic Music/Rough Trade)

Playing acoustic, seven-string Spanish, and requinto guitars, Cecilia Zabala weaves a tapestry of tango rhythms, jazz progressions, and Argentine folk melodies on The Color of Silence. But that is only part of the sonic web the Buenos Aries native spins. Zabala’s feathery, free-falling voice is the other featured instrument on this solo set, where guitar and vocals cradle and enfold each other to create a sensuous and mysterious effect.

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Rising and falling in tandem with her cross-picked gossamer guitar, Zabala’s seesawing scat singing mimics choral liturgical music on “La otra mitad.” On the sinuous title track, Zabala’s vocals flit from airy jazz to soothing lullaby as they torque around her guitar’s polyphonic textures. It’s a piece that manages to evoke both Latin jazz and music from the Baroque era without inducing whiplash.

On the busy but uncluttered “Detrás del horizonte,” harp-like fluting on the upper strings remain tethered to Zabala’s twanging bass pulse, while sparkling clusters of notes drift and scatter like fading fireworks. Even instrumentals like “Princesa,” where Zabala’s ethereal voice is absent, conjure an otherworldly mood. Around a bell-toned note that tolls repeatedly like a distant beacon, Zabala’s acoustic guitar pirouettes and prowls like a fairy tale princess pacing her ivory tower.

With The Color of Silence, Zabala transports the listener to a dream world, where her delicate virtuosic playing creates a mood, a setting, and a space for vocals that range from light-as-soufflé aria to shamanic incantation.

Pat Moran
Pat Moran

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