Review by Tempestas Ink & Staff
It is not always an easy task to take a mainstream pop song – let alone a contemporary Christian number – and rewrite its entire arrangement to the Salsa genre in a befitting manner, while retaining the aura of the original. Yet, that is precisely what Orchestra Fuego, winner at the 2022 Independent Music Awards (Best Song, Best Band, and Best Album), has pulled off with its sprightly Salsa version of MercyMe’s “I Can Only Imagine”.
The intro itself starts off with a nod to the original’s pop-rock arrangement (with the original tempo being near-retained), courtesy of the glassy suitcase EP sounds, aided by the percussion and the trombone, which serves as an effective bridge between the original genre to the newly written arrangement by the Grammy-nominated Carlos Infante. And by the 13-second mark, one might already deduce that the remnants of the original are soon to be taken over by something sprightly and new. Now, there always seems to be something about the D-major key and Salsa together, that makes it so pleasing to the ear. This time is no exception. And Pete Rodriguez’s warm and soulful vocals do a stellar job of retaining the aforementioned aura of the original; the lyrics are rendered in a manner that is sincere and heartfelt (“Will I sing Hallelujah, Will I be able to speak at all” does pull the heartstrings). And by the time the entire twelve-piece orchestra joins in along with the choral vocalists, one might have, at the moment, already forgotten what the original arrangement was like. The balance, tone and consistent arrangement, and chordal voicings throughout the song all hit the mark emphatically. Special mention ought to be reserved for the cadenza-like sequence from 2:58 to 3:30, as the vision of the entire writing and performing teams really comes through here. Eventually though, kudos to the lead vocalist who really carries through the song from start to finish with effortless charm and heart.
Overall, “I Can Only Imagine” is mesmerizingly effective. There is this line that goes “Will I Dance for You Jesus, Or in awe of You be still”. Well, this rendition certainly makes it an easy decision for one to spring into dance for the Lord, as well as retain the heart for prayerful adoration. A must-listen-to for the Easter season.
Marcus Hernandez and Orchestra Fuego
Orchestra Fuego is a sensational Salsa band that performs both original and familiar Latin songs with invigorating new arrangements. Based in Tampa Bay, Florida this twelve-piece live orchestra presents an ear-pleasing and visually alluring performance that magnifies their impressive presentation style. Winner of the 2022 Independent Music Awards for Best Song, Best Band, and Best Album for their latest production “Candela“ and ranked as the number one independent Salsa band in the World by IMC, For more information, please visit their website.