Poetry reflecting the coming and going of the tide and sailors, lost loves, and the fragility of life pour from the songs on Franca Masu’s Almablava. Hailing from the Italian island Sardinia, Masu possesses a powerful voice ten times bigger than her petite frame. She paints a Sardinian landscape with an emotional palette fueled by longing, melancholy and hope. In 2011, I reviewed a live album by the performer which reminded me of two Catalan favorite vocalists--Marina Rossell and Maria del Mar Bonet. However, on her new studio album, Masu explores tango and other musical traditions along with Catalan and Sardinian songs. Masu composed contributed poetic lyrics which she sings with great conviction.
Laced with accordion, guitars, double bass, piano and percussion, the songs sound both warm and melancholic with Masu’s voice grabbing the spotlight. The only sore thumb for me is Un Tango which sounds too modern to my ears with programming and in my humble opinion interrupts the flow of the acoustic songs. I will add that I frown on programming that appears on any folkloric album. However, focusing on the positive I think Vida sounds delightful with Fausto Beccalossi’s accordion mingling with Masu’s vocals. The titular track features Alessandro Girotto on Spanish guitar with Masu singing in a softer flamenco style. My favorite song is Mariposa (Butterfly) in which Masu tenderly gazes at her daughter, “You will awaken and I will garnish your heart.”
Masu delivers a feast for all the senses and her voice no doubt will take its listener places beyond the usual horizon. With these songs, we imagine fishermen lost at sea, lovers waiting on the shores and the stuff that awakens souls from deep sleep. During the next full moon, you’ll want to slip this CD into your player.