We’re no strangers to the work of jazz composer Pablo Embon. Most recently we’ve had the pleasure of reviewing his albums Reminiscent Moods and Harmony Tales, but we’ve been fortunate enough to be getting our hands on his music since the year The Ark was founded. Regularly we find Pablo’s music to be a true delight to listen to, and have found his compositions to be “Profoundly and wonderfully expansive. Warming. Comforting. Uniting. [and] Inclusive”, as well as “one of the best-kept secrets in jazz.” Today, we find no exception to this well-deserved praise as we dive into In Your Skin. This complex collection of compositions was almost completely performed by Pablo, featuring him on piano, keys, samplers, electric and upright bass, percussion, and nylon, acoustic, and 12 string guitars, as well as vocals in a few select songs. The result of this amalgamation of skill is a breathtaking record that is expressive, evocative, and frankly, brilliant.
HERE’S WHAT WE DUG MOST…
The album opens with Hat Gaya, and it’s an immediate hearty taste of the kinds of sounds we’re going to be treated to on this record. The piano here is practically the epitome of jazz sounds; bouncy, bright, and eclectic in composition. And while the supporting percussion is certainly jazz in execution, clearly hints of Pablo’s South American roots have made their way into the track, creating a beautiful Latin-jazz hybrid rhythm (and this is perhaps even further emphasized by the percussion solo around the three-minute mark).
The Day Will Come offers us a more somber side to Pablo’s work at the start. Introduced with a melancholy melody on a reverberant piano, the track slowly adds percussion and guitars that create an ethereal, haunting feel to the first two minutes of the track, each section as dark as it is captivating. Then, the track changes direction, maintaining its moderate feel but switching to a more uplifting string of melodies, crescendoing into a beautifully intricate piano section, followed by a complex string arrangement, and a surprising but equally as welcome electric guitar solo, before a sudden drop to a beautifully simple piano outro – a come-full-circle moment. The amount of ground Pablo manages to cover in each of his tracks is nothing short of impressive.
Click On Me is one of the few tracks that features vocal work, and the restrained use of them on this album really allows them to shine when they do appear. This track features Argentinian vocalist Virginia Tepsich, whose soulful, intricate, and bright voice suits the music near perfectly, the perfect addition to this already wonderfully executed track. This is another track where the Latin influence blends beautifully with the jazz foundation, creating an ever-churning mix of tones and rhythms that are so very easy to get lost within. These tracks feel like novels, each with many moving parts and a compelling story all their own that is somehow completely told in the few short minutes we have with each song.
The title track In Your Skin is a particularly expressive number, once again led by a delicate piano. This gentle song flows like a river from section to section, picking up strings as it goes but never feeling overstated or too complex despite a definitive build throughout. It’s a smooth and easy ride from start to finish. This track also features backing vocals from Pablo himself, a hearty and rich addition to this easy-listening tune.
We also love Silently Awake for its spacey, bell-toned intro, followed by a lullaby-like progression, playing perfectly into the song’s title. The addition of the strings as the track progresses adds to the mysterium that permeates this track, but the guitar lines that follow keep it grounded in jazz tones. This brief exploration into more experimental sounds has a different feel than much of the rest of the album, but it shows that Pablo’s compositional range perhaps knows no bounds.
OUR FAVORITE TRACK…
Primera Estrofa is another track that features vocals quite heavily, however this time the lyrics are in Spanish. Written by Gabriela Fernandez Mantaras, you don’t need to understand a word to feel the passion and intensity radiating from this song. Again featuring the voice of Tepsich, her vocals are the brilliant beacon of light above a blissed-out sea of jazzy sound. It highlights all of the things that Pablo does best in the compositions on this album – complex melodies, intricate piano and guitar work, an elaborate structure where predictability is nowhere to be found, yet the resulting music feels intuitively cohesive. It’s a show-stopping, ear-catching, brilliant composition.
With thirteen tracks in total, there’s so much that still could be said about the work on In Your Skin. After listening to this album, with total certainty, we maintain that Pablo Embon is unquestionably a well-kept secret in the jazz community. This album is track after track of bold, moving, and powerful music. With cinematic construction and unquestionably high-quality compositions at the center of this masterpiece, this is a masterful showing of skill within the jazz genre, and Pablo’s creativity and capabilities are impressive beyond expectation. Clear your schedule, put on your best pair of headphones, and do nothing but truly listen to this one – you can thank me later.
BELOW: Check out our full artist interview with Pablo Embon, listen to In Your Skin and connect with his website and social media platforms, and watch his music video. Please support Pablo Embon by visiting him online, and playing, downloading, and/or purchasing his music, or attending a live show! And, as always, thank you for supporting real music!
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