Although he's the son of Juan Formell, founder of Cuba's best-known dance band, Los Van Van, Juan-Carlos is more sit-down innovator than dance-floor shaker. Formell has taken the acoustic country son style and awakened its lyrical potential in songs that veil the political in the everyday. For instance, La Vaquita (The Cow) sings of the simple things-a cow, a rooster, a cat-the embargoed island's poor can no longer afford. Formell's words are no less elegant than his guitar playing, which shines in a trio of instrumentals. Whether or not you agree with his politics, Formell is asking many of the right questions in a new and thoroughly captivating manner.
FromEscape(Nov. 1999). Subscriptions: $18/yr. (4 issues) from Box 462255, Escondido, CA 92046.