Lu - Rumě
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cd cover Lu
Forrest Hill Records (

Luisa Cottifogli (now going simply as "Lu") was blessed with two coincidences: first, she was born of Northern parents in the South of Italy, quite the opposite of what is usually the case. Second, an Indian journalist, Niranjaz Jhaveri, responsible for a number of jazz festivals around India, offered her a scholarship to come and study vocal techniques in India. Her prolonged stay in India defined her whole outlook on the world, her belief in "chance" encounters, her openness to different approaches, her appreciation of beauty in the most unimaginable places, and her love of tradition.

Rumě, (named for the Persian poet/philosopher known as "the restless wanderer") is a work of great beauty and innovation. Producer Leo Z, who with Lu co-wrote most of the music for these fragments of ancient texts and sounds from the region of Emilia-Romagna as well the few more recent texts, has done her a great favor by stepping away from the tried and tested and dipping into a sea of electronics, augmented by a number of acoustic instruments, creating a sound that is mesmerizing; contemporary and timeless at the same time, a perfect vehicle for a collection of songs that works impeccably with her lovely voice. A host of highly competent musicians play everything from tabla and Celtic harp to soprano saxophone and banjo, adding many layers to the sound.

Rumě ventures from rock to traditional to new age, keeping an equally safe distance from the excesses of all three, levitating in their midst. Songs like "Sancta Maria," "Lo lo lo," and "Fola" really stand out with their unique instrumentation (sometimes reminiscent of the work of Mari Boine or Bjork), Lu's lovely and versatile voice sounding like a cross between the best Italian voices, somehow informed by Indian diva Asha Bhosle.

It's startling how Italy can turn out amazing female singer after amazing female singer and Lu is certainly one in this great line. For anyone not afraid to venture outside the strictly traditional range or for anyone venturing in to the remarkable world of local musical scenes, this is a record not to be missed. - Nondas Kitsos

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