Saturday, June 1, 2013

In review--Carmen's Favorite Songs

Carmen Souza
Galileo Music

Cape Verdean-Portuguese vocalist (and songwriter) Carmen Souza returns with Kachupada.  Exploring jazz and African Diaspora musical styles, Souza pushes musical boundaries singing in a voice that could claim soul sister-ship with American folksinger Victoria Williams.  She opens with the effervescent Manhã l de Dezembro followed by an accordion-laced Donna Lee (American jazz given a French swing makeover).  How do you even begin to describe the third track, Luta (Fight), other than pan-Africa meets Brazil and Cuba?  Souza sings with syncopation along with poly phonic percussion, savory flute, and beatnik bass lines.

As eclectic as the musical portion sounds, Souza possesses an otherworldly voice that when it grounds itself becomes deliciously earthy.  The arrangements by Souza and her producer Theo Pas’cal surprise, tease, and tickle our ears.  Souza’s version of My Favorite Things delights with its off-the-wall arrangement and stunning horn solo.  I would like to see the Von Trapp family sing this version.  Actually, it took me a few times to get this version, but now that I do I find it raw and refreshing to any version I’ve heard previously of this heavily covered song.

If you seek Cape Verdean music, listen to Ivanira, which does a bit of world travel.  Jonathan Idiagbonya’s piano and Tuche’s guitars hit the spot.  The snappy Amazing Land carries appreciative sentiments about the natural world.  And when I look briefly at the song descriptions, I come away with nature, hope, gratitude, and happiness.  Souza brims over with joyful expression and without knowing too much about the musician, she must leave her audiences in a delightful space.  She ends the album on a high note with New Day and indeed, after taking this music tour, it feels like a new day.

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