Elena Ledda -Incanti
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Elena Ledda
Felmay (www.felmay.it)

cd cover Elena Ledda is arguably Sardinia's finest traditional singer, her voice like water over stones, silky and rippling. Ledda possesses an operatic soprano's control and range, with the added benefit of the plaintive mellisma that makes the ancient vocal music of Sardinia so passionate and unforgettable. After 10 years, the ideas on this 2003 reissue still sound remarkably fresh.

Ledda's repertoire is based on traditional songs that Ledda herself researched in the hillside farming villages of Sardinia, but the skillful arrangements by guitar and mandolin player Mauro Palmas are anything but old-fashioned. Each song exhibits a distinct personality. The title song is unmistakably Moroccan in rhythmic flavor, and reminds us of just how close Sardinia is to the north coast of Africa. Ledda's nimble vocal gymnastics in the dance song "Ballu Cantau" are playfully mirrored on the organetto by Riccardo Tesi. The simple lullaby "Anninnare" takes on the solemn and reverent tone of a hymn.

Several songs (including the opening track, "Filugnana") are presented as an evolving banquet of Sardinian folk styles including tenore style 4-part a capella breaks in which Ledda takes the place of the traditionally male boke (lead voice), and other members of the band round out the vocal square, so to speak. Included among those 3 other voices is the gifted Enrico Frongia of the group Argia.

The enchanting "Sa Bellesa" strikes a particularly brilliant balance between jazz-inspired instrumental and traditional tenore vocal sections. It starts slowly, but the intensity is racheted up over the course of over seven minutes. You get the impression that the song was recorded in one take, the band having fun with whistles, catcalls and whinnys during one rhythmic break. Heck, they don't even stop rolling when Ledda's voice cracks momentarily during a solo!

Enjoy the opportunity to add this one to your collection if you missed it the first time around. - Philly Markowitz

CD available from cdRoots

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