Argentinean diva Sandra Luna breathes life into contemporary tango on her debut international release, Tango Varon, weaving her brand of "Tango Cancion"—"sung" tango as opposed to tango for dancers— around a mix of classic and contemporary tangos that will delight lovers of the genre. Luna's enormously expressive voice sounds equally at home on classics like "Che Bandoneon" as it does on "Carritos Cartoneros," a new and heartbreaking song about the impoverished cardboard gatherers of Buenos Aires, and the intriguing orchestrations by Daniel Pucci keep the disc varied from beginning to end, as Luna sings with ever-changing accompaniment that ranges from the lush to the starkly beautiful. Astor Piazzolla's "El Gordo Triste" receives an appropriately dramatic soundtrack while others are more spare: "Lejana" features Luna's voice accompanied only by Pucci's cello, while "Duelo Criollo" places her with only guitar. While the traditional touches here are enough to reassure tango purists, it's the moments that veer from the expected that really paint Luna as unique, like the jazz-inflected duet with the piano on "Viejo Gringo" and the delightful Cuban-meets-flamenco flavor of "Me Llaman Luna." That "Tango Luna" bears a visual and sonic resemblance to another Times Square artist, Mariza, is no accident. It has often been said that what fado is to Portugal tango is to Argentina, so it seems only fitting that since lovers of fado have a rising new star to watch in Mariza, so should those enamored of tango have someone in Sandra Luna. –Ezra Gale
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