Wall Street Journal ‘Solo Un Sueño’ Premiere
Immigration has been a prominent issue of late, to say the least, and Grupo Fantasma offers its take on the subject with the new song “Solo Un Sueño.” The Austin, Texas, band premieres the tune today on Speakeasy.
It’s a polyrhythmic Afr0-Cuban funk workout, laced with busy ascending horn parts, sinewy electric guitar lines and Spanish-language vocals. The song “tells the story of the drive for the American dream from an immigrant’s perspective, with hard work and education cited as ways to achieve it,” says guitarist Beto Martinez, who wrote the music.
Grupo Fantasma has certainly worked hard: the nine-piece collective has released five of its own albums since forming in 2000, appeared on recordings by other acts and performed with artists including Prince, Maceo Parker, and Wu-Tang Clan member GZA. While a strong work ethic is important, so is a positive outlook, says singer and timbales playerJose Galeano, who wrote the lyrics to “Solo Un Sueño” (which translates to “Only a Dream”), who advises would-be immigrants to leave any negativity behind.
“Add to this society in every possible way, no matter what it is,” Galeano says by email. “Let your voice be heard, educate yourself, vote if you’re able to do it and don’t complaint later about your situation.”
“Solo Un Sueño” is from the group’s upcoming album “Problemas,” which is the band’s first album with an outside producer: Steve Berlin from Los Lobos. He says that “Solo Un Sueño” “actually had an Ethiopian vibe to begin with,” before Galeano’s “semi-operatic” lyrical concept steered the tune in a different direction. “There are very few musicians that could conceive of a canvas this large and dynamic much less be able to execute it so confidently,” Berlin says by email.
“Problemas” is due Oct. 30 on Blue Corn Music. What do you think of “Solo Un Sueño?” Leave your thoughts in the comments.