New Reviews: September 2008
Reviews by Matthew Forss
Scottish-singer, Karine Polwart, has a voice like an angel. Her sweet vocals match perfectly
with the background instrumentation of acoustic guitars, banjo, percussion, and piano. Her vocals
were also present on the Battlefield Band’s 2001 Happy Daze release. She has won numerous
accolades from BBC Radio and Scots Trad Music Awards. Folk rhythms with Scottish and English elements
are the backbone of Fairest Floo’er. The tone of the album is rather subdued and free of busy musical distractions. Her voice sounds similar to Sweden’s Emma Hardelin or Ireland’s Heidi Talbot. Fairest Floo’er is more than ‘fair’ – it borders on spectacular.
This Earthly Spell
On the heels of Fairest Floo’er, Karine follows up with This Earthly Spell. This album is
much more refined and includes shruti box, drums, double bass, electric guitars, accordion, kalimba,
and electronic loops. As an added bonus, the song lyrics are included in the liner notes. The same great
voice sings about the earth, sin, hope, human emotion, and longing – all in a distinctively poetic context.
Every song is distinctive and refreshing. If the album can be described in one word, it would be ‘enchanting’.
This Earthly Spell will strike a chord with your soul and never let go. This is another perfect pick for fans of Karine Polwart.
World Music Network
Following the release of Klezmer Revival, Klezmer Revolution continues the world-wide scope of Yiddish/Klezmer music for today’s world. This album brings forth a more accessible collection of songs that may not necessarily be entirely Jewish in origin. This is a re-invention of early Klezmer music, which includes more than brass bands. Of course, you will hear brass on this album, but it is joined with gospel rhythms, Arabic tones, urban influences, and classical. Some of the groups are The Klezmatics, David Krakauer, Frank London, Mikveh, and others. This is definitely an album to ‘worship’!
Latin Street Party
World Music Network
The Street Party albums from World Music Network are always a favorite of music fans. Latin Street Party is no exception. The popular beats represent the Latin diaspora of Colombia, Puerto Rico, Cuba, Dominican Republic, and the USA. This is music for street dancing or enjoying an ice-cold lemonade by the pool. Various styles of Latin soul, salsa, merengue, cumbia, bachata, funk, and charanga-rap are represented for today’s party listener. Some favorites are from groups, such as The Pimps of Joytime, Sidestepper, Ricardo Lemvo, and Los de Abajo. For a good time, turn it up!
World Music Network
The music of Turkey essentially bridges the gap between European and Asian musical influences. This collection showcases the talents of Sezen Aksu, Orhan Haklamaz, Sultana, Cengiz Ozkan, Shevval Sam, and many others. Nearly 70 minutes of music and 19 tracks round out the collection. Some of the music is quite contemplative and meditative, while others incorporate energetic folk and pop ensembles indicative of Balkan/Gypsy or Central Asian melodies. For a painless introduction to the world of Turkish music, pick up Turkish Café. This is one café that will satisfy all tastes!
Jimmy Sturr and his Orchestra
Let The Whole World Sing
The iconic polka king, Jimmy Sturr, presents a sampling of his legendary tunes. Some tunes are funny, others emotive, and instrumental. Instruments include accordion, sax, trumpets, piano, bass, drums, violin, fiddle, guitar, and clarinet. This is polka with a heavy brass section that reminds one of music that could be composed by a Balkan band. However, Jimmy, a 17-time Grammy award winner with several gold albums certainly solidifies his presence in the musical world. Guest musicians include Raul Malo, Charlie Prose, Johnny Karas, Lance Wing, and Ray Price. Surely the whole world will enjoy this music.
D’ici et d’Ailleurs
Soha was born in France from parents of Sahrawi descent in Africa’s Western Sahara region. She sings in French and creates an intimate and soulful collection of songs. The result is an excellent album of jazzy/lounge music with a hint of rap and a good dose of breezy Cape Verdean and Cuban influences. Moreover, the French-café rhythms carry most of the tracks into adventurous directions. The instrumentation is never intrusive or overbearing, but is carefully executed to match her soothing vocals on each track. All in all, Soha’s songs beg to be played over and over again. French song lyrics are included in the liner notes.
Keep On Walkin’
Nashville’s award-wining bluegrass group, The Grascals, plow ahead with their latest release, appropriately titled, Keep On Walkin’. This is new bluegrass music that contains those iconic instrumental combinations of guitar, banjo, fiddle, and mandolin. Of course, half the musical story revolves around the incredible harmony vocals. Lyrically, the songs touch on relationships, drinking, war, and everything in between. Some of the songs are humorous and nostalgic. Overall, The Grascals should be an essential addition to your bluegrass collection.
Truths and Rights
Originally released in 1979, Truths and Rights was the recording that paved the way for a unique reggae-dance style. The swayback reggae style grew out of his childhood experiences as a trumpeter, and a church and school choir member while in Jamaica. This release includes the ten original songs on the 1979 LP, as well as six additional song remixes. Overall, the songs resemble a form of jazzy, reggae-beats with long instrumental sections and funky trip-hop rhythms. For those interested in early reggae music with clear vocals, then this is the release for you.
Matthew J. Forss graduated from Lakeland College-Sheboygan, Wisconsin in
2005 with a B.A. in Biology. He will graduate with an M.Sc. in Exercise
Science in May 2007 from Northern Michigan University-Marquette, Michigan.
He is pursuing an M.F.A. in Creative Writing at Goddard
College-Plainfield, VT. Since 1998, he has collected numerous
musical instruments and CDs from around the world. In 2000, he wrote a paper
on Mongolian ethnomusicology, entitled: How Does Music Play An Important
Role In The Life And Culture Of Mongolia? Currently, he has collected over
400 CDs that represent over 180 different countries. His general interests
include ethnomusicology journalism and researching the
traditional/contemporary ethnic music of various cultures from around the
world. His specific, geographic areas of study include the traditional and
popular music from Central Eurasia (especially Mongolia, Uzbekistan and
Azerbaijan), North Africa (especially Mali, Mauritania, Western Sahara,
Libya and Morocco), Scandinavia and Pacific Islands (especially New Zealand,
Solomon Islands and New Caledonia). He also enjoys studying Uzbek, Tamasheq,
and German linguistics. In November of 2000, he accepted the position of
writing World Music CD reviews for this site.