Women Care
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Various Artists
Women CARE
KKV / CARE Norway (www.kkv.no, www.care.no)

cd cover One of the best ways to demonstrate your concern for something or someone is to make music that shows it. And the music doesn't have to be big, over-produced power ballads, either. This album is a collaboration between four African women - Tigist Bekele, Marie Daulne, Chiwoniso Maraire and Talike - and four Scandinavians - Anneli Drecker, Simone, Lynni Treekrem and Unni Wilhelmsen. It makes its mark with understated conviction and beauty. The music is almost entirely acoustic and sung largely in English. It has a distinctly African focus although the subject matter of the songs is more universal in scope. Thus the tracks, which typically mix sweet and gentle with sassy and assertive, take on such concerns as the status of women in today's world, the dicey nature of love and sensuality, faith in the face of uncertainty, the joy of motherhood and no less horrifying a topic than female genital mutilation.

Listen!
The prevailing sound is warm and folksy, often with an underlying groove of mbira and djembe that keeps things from getting too sedate and solidifies the melodic foundation beneath the marvelous singing contributed by all eight women (be it solo, in tandem or trading off). Some synthesizer sheen is heard, but the lovely aura of these songs is more likely to be graced by such touches as the recurring vocal percussion of Daulne and Talike. So is this album the world music equivalent of a chick flick? It doesn't seem to be consciously trying for anything beyond making great, unassuming music that gets to you regardless of gender, and with a diverse outlook that includes both a smart cover of Tracey Chapman's "Fast Car" and lyrics borrowed from 19th century Norwegian writer Henrik Ibsen, it's obviously aiming far and wide. By the time you get to the Congolese-style modulation capping the final track, there's a joy that gets the last word over the many moods of this sparkling, heartfelt disc. - Tom Orr

CD available from cdRoots


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