With the calm plucking of a few color drenched notes on a Spanish guitar, Esteban Alvarez wastes no time setting a sensuous tone in his superb new single “Has Amado Una Mujer de Veras” (“Have You Ever Really Loved a Woman” in English, a cover of the mid-90’s Bryan Adams track). The band rallies behind him and we start to descend into an oasis of harmonious piano no more than thirty seconds into the song. It’s recognizable and familiar yet strange and mysterious, as if we’re walking down a street we once visited when we were younger only to discover how developed it has become in present day.
In place of Adams’ crooning is Alvarez’s strutting piano, which sways and flows with a swagger that is exclusively his own. The song clicks to the pace of a rollicking mariachi ballad, but is frequently punctuated by a somber, introspective piano part that is striking and echoes through the course of the entire song. We’re exploring the inside of our own heart, and it looks like the street we’re walking down is leading us to romance, self-discovery and an awakening that is only possible in the warm glow of the southwestern sun.
In the music video that accompanies “Has Amado Una Mujer de Veras,” Alvarez cinematically portrays a lovesick figure whose only aspiration is to have the hand of his soulmate, a woman removed from his world and at the same time all-consuming of it. It’s a theatrical piece that spellbinds our attention as much as the music itself, and in all actuality it lives up to the aristocratic standard that both the critics and his most loyal fans come to expect when they listen to any of his music, whether it be an original composition or a creative translation of another artist’s work.
I went back and listened to Bryan Adams’ version of this song quite a bit after giving “Has Amado Una Mujer de Veras” a few spins and found that while you can tell that they are in fact the same composition, there is little more than a basic verse-chorus-verse framework that binds the two in the sonic universe. Alvarez went out of his way to pay homage to Adams with this piece, but he also spent just as much time making sure this wasn’t a reprint of the original. This isn’t the “Latin version” of “Have You Ever Really Loved a Woman,” it’s the Esteban Alvarez version.
I sincerely hope that Alvarez makes this a standard part of his repertoire when he performs live from here on out, half because I think it adds a terrific rock influence to his overall sound and half because I plan on seeing him play on stage at some point in my life and would really love to hear this song in particular. Even listeners who don’t often listen to this style of classical pop should give this musician a chance to do what he does best. Everyone I’ve introduced to this song has found themselves just as captivated as I am with its star’s warm energy, and if it finds its way into regular rotation on FM radio, I think the whole world will follow suit.