Friday, May 7, 2010

Manuel Monestel: Songs of a One-Pant Man

Songs of a One Pant Man

   Manuel Monestel is a modern-day troubadour, in the truest sense of the word.  He travels up and down the Caribbean coast of Costa Rica, at times venturing into Panama, to sing his songs and participate in adventures, some of which are destined to become new chapters to his ever-expanding repertoire. On his initial CD, One Pant Man, Monestel borrows the title track from his long-time buddy and fellow Calypsonian, Walter Ferguson, aka Dr. Bombadee, so it comes as no surprise that they both record for Papaya Music.

   Monestel recorded two of Ferguson’s songs for this disc, as well as one from Herbrth Glinton, another Calypso singer/songwriter from the Costa Rica Caribbean area. The remaining tunes are all original compositions. Through the songs, he leads the listener along his journeys in search of “the secret connection between Calypso and the blues”. Manuel is part of a new generation of regional Coats Rica music and musicians, finding their collective niche and paying homage to a revitalized tradition.

   So, when you thinking of modern Calypso, don’t think of Harry Belafonte…On the song “Next Creation”, for example, Monestel sings about wanting to be a dog, and specifically, anything but a human being, in his next incarnation. And on the title cut, “One Pant Man”, the singer finds himself with a woman much younger than himself, who accuses him of being so poor that he possesses just a single pair of pants.

The Travelling Calypsonian
   Manuel Monestel covers the three songs of his friends in English. His original material is sung in Spanish, in his clear, sweet voice. He accompanies himself with clean picking on his acoustic guitar. In this sense, Monestel is something of a folk singer as well. In the song, “Costarriquica”, he peers into his country’s diverse potential future, venturing into political and social topics on one hand and equally comfortable singing beautiful romantic songs about the people and places he loves in Costa Rica. “Arrecife de Coral”, in particular, has Monestel’s brand stamped on it. The song is about a dream the songwriter has – a coral reef filled with warm water and marine wildlife. The warm waves wash the soul and coconut trees on the beach sway and dance in Calypso rhythm. The wind whistles a melody and congos call a harmony, while the Cahuita sky entices a sleepy tan. The tropical forest is in good company, so full of life. And the world rotates, with luck, enough to share for everyone. Sr. Monestel then sings in his native Spanish about how difficult it is to awaken from this dream and witness the “Occidental Powers” ruining this idyllic scene.

   The CD was produced by Manuel Obregon, who also plays piano on a few of the songs. The complimentary artwork on the CD jacket, insert and booklet is by Senora Pricilla. The disc opens a new chapter in Costa Rica folk music, bridging a generation, in true Papaya Music tradition. His CDs are available at Jaime Peligro book store in Playa Tamarindo.All comments concerning this article are gladly welcome.

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