Sometimes in this relatively untrammelled part of the planet we forget what the word “traditional” really means. For Davide Salvado “tradition” stretches back beyond generations, beyond centuries. He seeks out and evokes the music of pre-Christian and Celtic vocals from his native Galicia—that northwest corner of Spain where the long pilgrim’s road El Camino de Santiago ends, and where Salvado's journey with voice and handheld percussion began.
Often aided by no more than a tambourine or square-framed drum—singing about a horse or love or dark shadows or anything else—Salvado’s songs come from a place of deep passion and channel generations that came before him. But his work also carries an urgency that is absolutely rooted in the here and now. At its most intense (in other words, most of the time), his music hearkens back to the lonely, reaching music of a Jewish cantor, pleading on behalf of his congregation with every sinew in his throat and every capillary in his bloodstream.
Despite this intense passion for the past, Salvado says that he’s more interested in live music than musical ethnography. He often uses one to make the other, however: for his latest album, O Ladron de Amorodos (The Strawberry Thief), Salvado travelled his region's villages and learned songs and tales from old women. At last year's World Music Expo (the mighty WOMEX) in Santiago de Compostela—his home turf—audiences were entranced by this bead-and-sandal-clad hipster-looking man who sent them aloft with traditional Galician songs from way before it was cool.