Peña Volume 2
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Peña Volume 2
Secret Stash Records

You don’t get the same super cool wooden box packaging or bonus DVD that came with Peña Volume 1, but the music on this digital-only release is all that’s needed to make it essential. It’s more of the magnificently sparse and passion-drenched sounds recorded by Matt Foss and Cory Wong of Minneapolis’ own Secret Stash Records during a loosely structured trip to Lima in search of Afro-Peruvian music. How lucky that they found enough riches to fill a follow-up.

As with the first go, no songs here are built around anything more than acoustic guitars and bass, vocals, small percussion and the wooden box drum known as the cajon. Some are built around less than that. But the brilliance of the sessions, which were non-studio, come-as-you-are affairs with a heavy impromptu factor, shines through every time. The same loose core group of vocalists and musicians from the first collection is again on hand, and again the rich, deep roots Afro-Peruvian tradition they offer (including an “El Condor Pasa” that’s found its way back home) is wonderful. Secret Stash’s Peruvian predilections are secret no more; the label reportedly has plans for further compiling, touring and educational projects involving this sort of music. All power to them. - Tom Orr

Editor's note: We normally do not review "download only" recordings, but as always, rules are meant to be broken, occasionally.

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