Lura - Herança

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Not long ago I had the great pleasure of seeing Lura perform in an intimate concert setting, followed by the equal pleasure of, thanks to my threadbare journalistic credentials, getting to meet her backstage. She's a humble, easygoing sort, pretty much the personality you'd expect from a Cape Verdean singer.

A few songs on her latest album Herança (Heritage) come across a shade harder and faster than her previous work, though the longing, slightly melancholic feel that characterizes a good deal of Cape Verde's music is present. Rhythmically, the songs are mainly rooted in the chipper funana and batuque grooves that ease the bluesy spell of the slower style popularized by the late Cesaria Evora. Lura clearly views her country's musical heritage as something to celebrate, and she wastes no time in doing so, sweetly tearing into the opening stomper “Sabi di Mas” with a vocal that is at once entrancing and sassy.

Listen "Sabi di Mas" (excerpt)

"Sema Lopi" (excerpt)

Her pensive side comes out in the lament of “Di Undi Kim Bem” and “Barco di Papel,” the latter a softly percolating duet with Richard Bona. And she's at her classic best as she matches her more relaxed tones with Regis Gizavo's accordion on “Sema Lopi” or just as effortlessly gives the soukous-like “Gore” the nimble phrasing it needs.

But the disc's centerpiece is the title track, on which Lura's halting, cautious vocal navigates a lengthy ambient soundscape created by Brazilian master percussionist Nana Vasconcelos. It's unlike anything Lura's done before, and it's there that the many moods of the party stop awhile and meditate on Cape Verde's standing as an Atlantic island nation, an African nation, a former Portuguese colony, a place many leave because of necessity and a place where many stay because of deeply rooted love. That warm and humble soul I once had the privilege of meeting struck me as nothing if not 100 percent genuine, and with Herança she's put out a genuinely heartfelt and musically rich tribute to her homeland. -Tom Orr

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