(Reviews of artists who passed away are the hardest to write, especially posthumous recording reviews. I want every word to count and every word to honor the performer. I put so much pressure on myself that I end up procrastinating instead of writing the review. Not only that, but it’s hard to write anything objective when music journalists and researchers are also fans of the musicians we review and we’re only human).
After the Cape Verdean vocalist Cesaria Evora died in 2011, her producer Jose da Silva felt reluctant to release a posthumous album, but according to the press notes that accompanied my media copy of Mãe Carinhosa, he was moved by tribute albums produced by other artists and he wondered what to do with unreleased tracks from Evora’s previous albums. I think that Evora’s fans and colleagues will embrace this posthumous CD which possesses Evora’s warm and effervescent spirit. It’s almost like she never left us and her voice lingers a bit longer among the living.
Many people love Evora because she represents the common person who through hard work and a fortunate turn of events, ended up as a world music superstar. Other people love Evora because of her signature vocals that when combined with the lively rhythms of Cape Verde, accordion, violins, and guitar causes happiness to stir even in a depressed person’s heart. Known for singing morna, Cape Verde’s answer to the blues, Evora's voice cures the blues. And even the posthumous Mãe Carinhosa radiates a joyful vibration that will have more people dancing than crying. I wonder if posthumous albums bring the artist immortality or just leave us with the impression of “I was here”or in this case, "she was here."
The opener Sentimento is an alternative track to the titular song of Evora’s last studio album (or the last of her albums I reviewed). The title track of this CD sounds equally lively. Whereas, Dor Di Sodade moves at a slower moody pace and while Evora sings with longing, it’s still not as aching as American blues, Portuguese fado or Spanish flamenco. Of course, having an English translation of the lyrics could change my mind and my mood. And even if it did, I would bounce back to a joyful place listening to the danceable Quem Tem Odio or Cmê Catchôrr. However, the album ends on a melancholic tone with Nôs Cabo Verde which we could dedicate to Cesaria Evora, the Barefoot Diva of Cape Verde. We still miss her even if we enjoy one last musical glimpse with this fabulous collection of songs.