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In His Own Footsteps
Obie Bermdez Finds A Laid-Back Way To Follow Up His Successful Album `Confesiones'
By RAMIRO BURR
9 January 2005
THE pressure of working under a deadline to record a follow-up album can be counterproductive, says singer-songwriter Obie Bermdez.
Just stop. Completely.
"When I feel that I'm not all there or it's not happening, we usually just stop," Bermdez says. "I'd rather just go home or to the hotel or whatever and just relax for the day.
"If I don't feel something, I don't pressure it."
Yet the stakes were high.
His 2003 breakthrough CD "Confesiones" was a commercial success, spawning three Top 10 singles on Billboard's Hot Latin Tracks chart, including "Antes" and "Me Cans de T." The CD also helped establish Bermdez as a talent on par with Juanes or Alejandro Sanz.
Still, the very success of "Confesiones" weighed heavily on him.
"They usually say that the second album is the one that really makes you or breaks you," he says. "But with me, as soon as I walked in the studio, I tried to just leave all kinds of problems at the door. I went in the studio with the idea that I wanted to write great songs and make good music and that's all that I could do."
The result is "Todo el Ao," an intriguing 11-track pop collection on which Bermdez again displays his talent for vivid imagery and absorbing stories.
In "Ya Te Olvid" he describes the struggle in trying to forget an unforgettable love, while "El Recuerdo," co-written with Gian Marco, reflects on the shadows of happy times long gone.
Bermdez, a native of Puerto Rico, also collaborated with songwriters Mickey Perfecto, Juan Carlos Prez Soto and Roberto Gmez Bolaoz. Noted producers Sebastian Krys and Joel Someilln recorded the CD.
Bermdez's strength is the midtempo romantic ballad, but new fans may find that most of the tunes sound vaguely familiar, with slow buildups and anthemic choruses. There's just enough nuance in ringing guitars, percolating keyboards, vocal harmonies and tropical percussion to keep things interesting.
Bermdez added horns on this production, and they particularly shine on "Maldita Boca."
"Maldita Boca, which means `my stupid mouth,' is one of those songs that definitely describes me," he says. "Sometimes you say stuff and go, `God, if I (could) only take that back.' You know it happens to all of us, but it happens to me a lot, and I just wanted to talk about it."
Standouts also include the dance-rock and tropical-flavored "Celos."
As a vocalist, Bermdez has also evolved. When he sings at full throttle, as on the midtempo ballad "No S Nada de T," he recalls a young Jon Secada.
Ultimately, "Todo el Ao" sounds like "Confesiones," but with more rock guitars and vocal harmonies.
"The title means year-round. I write about everything and anything," he says. "I'm always looking for my next song. With all the traveling and meeting people and doing this and that, I'm always inspired.
"The CD is basically a journey of the entire year, all the things that made me laugh, things that made me cry. Some stories are just things that happened to people that I know, ... conversations I had. That's the thing that I love about creating music and being a songwriter, that I'm able to play around with stories and ideas."
Last year saw the passing of Tejano's and conjunto's well-known pioneers Isidro Lopez and Tony de la Rosa.
Using ingenuity and imagination, singer-saxophonist Lopez, in 1956, created a whole new music style that fused the blue-collar "conjunto" sound with the urban "orquesta tejana." The result wasmodern Tejano music, a robust hybrid that, like rock 'n' roll, is enjoying its sixth decade.
Lopez, who died at age 75, was buried Aug. 20 in Corpus Christi's Seaside Memorial Cemetery, a scant 75 yards from the monument marking the resting place of another Tejano icon, Selena.
One of "conjunto's" most influential and popular accordionists, de la Rosa energized the folk genre in the mid-1950s with his lively style, taking it from its origins on rural ranches to the huge dance halls of Texas.
De la Rosa, 72, was cremated after a funeral June 10 in Kingsville, and his remains were placed in a small monument on his family ranch in Riviera.
Ramiro Burr covers Latin music each week.