I have already written about Iñigo Coppel previously. He probably has more potential for success than any of the newest singer/songwriters in the current Spanish musical scene. His new album, already recorded, “Los Nobles Salvajes (The Noble Savages)”, which I was referring to in a previous article, is now in the final post-production phase and will be released after the summer. In the meantime, today I want to call my readers attention to his previous work, an excellent album produced by Jose Nortes and recorded live at the Old Artuset Tavern on December 27, 2013.
The CD begins with the unusual cut “Iñigo Coppel Viaja a La Edad Media Y el Rock and Roll Salva Su Vida (Iñigo Coppel Goes to the Middle Age and Rock and Roll Saves His Life.)” It is an epic poem that gets you immediately trapped in a surrealistic frantic race where a hapless street singer narrates in first person what happened when, by an inexplicable phenomenon, he travels back in time to a medieval past. I don’t want to make a chronicle of the album or analyze here the songs or value them in any way. I’m just inviting you to listen to a disc which, in my opinion, it’s worth the effort and it is quite possibly that you may end falling in love with it, if you pay close attention to it. Just let yourself go with Iñigo’s overwhelming ability to convey emotions and tell stories with a sarcastic sense of humor. You might also feel the immense sensitivity with which he pours his truth on our souls to get to the core of things with unflinching honesty.
The song called “Tango Del Amante Traicionado (Tango of the Betrayed Lover)” leaves a bitter smile on the listener after the loud laughter caused by this final verse:
“People used to talk about faith!
This is just enough to make one lose his faith!
We live harassed by infamy,
These are times of chaste love and monogamy,
We cannot fall down any lower than that!”
Because, filled with nostalgia, you may think how true that sentence is: “only lovers believe in love.” And, after all, you may also think how pitiful betrayal is, even if you change the approach looking at it from the other side. Here the songwriter, with an incredible sense of humor, makes the poor guy, who was once the accomplice of a first disloyalty, become the true victim.
Then we find that unimaginable ballad, “Serenade for C”. The accurate description of that someone you silently love without understanding how it is possible that such a human being can live with the anguish she does. How can she feel sadness, pain, fear, anxiety and the infinite loneliness that surrounds her… despite herself and her perfect beauty? “Who can believe it?” But you understand, because through the author’s eyes you get to love her. It is just before the third stanza, while the magic violin of Manu Clavijo makes its appearance, when this serenade takes on the meaning and gets to string together all the elements, completing the image captured in the composition.
Coppel’s guitar starts as an angry protest like one of those that Bob Dylan gave to the world in ’63. He certainly gets the same narrative strength, the same musical impact and the same conviction. Only difference is that the issue here is, if the murder of this man, who was executed by the narrator himself, made any sense. “Are you sure he was a fascist? Are you sure there will not be anybody else like him anymore?” The song not only protests against this macabre practice and makes us aware of the fact that they most likely chose the wrong victim, but also reveals that the choice, by the same token, could lead them to murder a half of the humanity.
The next track contains my favorite song on the album. Do not ask me why. Nevertheless, I will try to offer an explanation. “Acaba Conmigo (Just Kill Me)” is a sincere act of contrition and, as such, it is moving. Its incisive succession of chords captivates me. The lacerating tone of the melody, accompanying the recognition of guilt in the afflicted voice of Iñigo penetrates me as the sharpening steel of a razor. Assuming capital punishment as the only way of redemption wreaks havoc on my emotional integrity. And when, willing to pay with his life for the damage done, he exclaims: “Shoot me, what are you waiting for?… Just kill me at once,” I can’t help but tear my soul apart.
As a statement of principles, as an act of faith in the function of the minstrel, Iñigo Coppel then recited this poem which goes straight to the heart. “En El Olympia (At L’Olympia)” tells of a lost faith recovered during the encounter with Gardel and all the great singers he met, when, as the song says, “The paths of life -listen to me, ‘mes amis’- they dragged my wounded soul to L’Olympia in Paris”.
“Laura y las Desventuras Del Joven Coppel (Laura and Young Coppel’s Sorrows)” narrates with a large dose of sarcasm of a first failed love affair which turns out to be a victory, a fulfilled purpose and a reaffirmation as a human being. And it does it with a rock beat of enviable skillfulness.
Again another chilling ballad this “Recuerda El Viento (Remember the Wind)” that the musician from Bilbao sings to a piano, reminding it once was a beautiful oak, that it was once free and noble. That was just until they tore it down to make it that lonesome piano which is now placed on a corner of the stage in a singer-songwriters cafe.
“Oiga, Que Hubieran Estudiado (Hey, They Should Have Studied)” precedes the last track on the disc. This is a unique blues that the author dedicates to all those women who choose the company of guys like him instead of those glamorous achievers and sophisticated musicians. Great tune that, filled with irony, deals with the question of success, the true value of artistic creation and the thorny issue of a shallow motivation to engage in this music thing to make a conquest of the opposite sex.
The final tune, entitled “If I ever die -God forbid-” is, as its name suggests, an artistic testament. That’s only in appearance; it is actually much more than that. It is like an examination of conscience; it becomes actually an account with the past to extract everything learned and to reassert his beliefs. Ultimately it is the confirmation of being on the good road, having come a long way, finally at peace with himself. As he says: “No one can steal from me what I sang, I learned to be on my side, I died quite sane and had a happy life“.
The Hypnotist Collector