Manero

Calamaro and a Piano

In 1993, around the time that he was finding success both sides of the Atlantic with his Spanish-Argentine band Los Rodríguez, Andrés Calamaro released Grabaciones Encontradas Vol.1, a collection of outtakes, improvisations and odd tracks that foresaw the second leg of his solo career once Los Rodríguez disbanded: the prolific, incontinent creator who would strike gold as often as he would take always-fun-yet-often-erratic paths. A bon vivant with a sense of humor who could pull off a perfect single like "No Se Puede Vivir del Amor" (with a quote to Carver, no less) and then put a smile on your face and make you wonder what the point was (as if you were in a contemporary art opening) with some of the other tracks.

Fast forward to 2016, and Calamaro is a legend in his own right thanks to brilliant albums like Alta Suciedad and Honestidad Brutal, but his rocker persona has started to fade a bit with his latest rocker outputs, which seem to stick to a formula. All along the way, he has released another (less interesting) volume of Grabaciones Encontradas and string of abums that speak of a different persona from the arena rocker: the flamenco-infused El Cantante, the tango collection Tinta Roja and the Litto Nebbia-fueled El Palacio de las Flores. A singer more connected to his roots and the archetype of the cantor than his wandering rock persona suggests.

A few weeks ago, Calamaro launched Romaphonic Sessions, formally called the third volume of the Grabaciones Encontradas series, but in reality the continuation of his cantor series -- a collection of covers of tangos and other songs from the Río de la Plata area plus new versions of some of his own songs, crafted just with his voice and the piano of Germán Wiedemer. If it's not the best album Calamaro has made (and it may well be, once the dust settles), it certainly shows what he can do when he focus on the songs he loves instead of trying to write another hit album to tour behind.

In his naked versions for his own "Los Avaiones," "Mi Enfermedad" or "Paloma," Calamaro shows that, as a singer, he can find corners and new twists in his own hits, places to go to that escape the stadium clichés he can be fond of. Even more interestingly, in his covers for classics like Piazzola and Ferrer's "Milonga del Trovador" or Masliah's "BIromes y Servilletas," he proves that he has become that cantor he's been aiming for all these years.