Sao Vicente

Cesaria Evora

Windham Hill Records, 2001

REVIEW BY: Christopher Thelen


On the surface, it would be easy for a neophyte to the world music scene to immediately assume Cesaria Evora to be part of the scene that spawned Buena Vista Social Club. It would be easy for them to assume that her latest disc, Sao Vicente, was filled with Latin rhythms that would get your soul and butt grooving. Yes, it would be easy... and wrong on all counts.

Evora, you see, is actually a native of Cape Verde, closer to Africa than Cuba, knocking that whole Ry Cooder connection right out the window. And while there are Latin tinges to her music, Evora is a practicioner of "morna," which is, as its name suggests, more mournful than groove-inspiring. And while it's admittedly not the easiest style of music to like right out of the box, Evora does win over the listener with her vocal talents.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

You don't have to speak the language to understand the emotion behind Sao Vicente. Hell, I didn't understand a single word, yet what Evora felt on songs like "Sao Vicente Di Longe," "Tiempo Y Silencio" and "Crepuscular Solidao" (the last track with Bonnie Raitt guesting) speaks to the listener in an emotional language that all will know.

Yet Sao Vicente is not the easiest album to get into initially - and part of that might be due to listeners' preconceptions of what Evora's music is about. It's almost a stereotype to the Western world that Latin music is full of energy, life and raw sexuality. But not all Latin music is like Ricky Martin - the closest some of us gringos ever get to the real thing. No, Evora and "morna" displays a much different side of this style of music, one that challenges the listener to break their initial expectations and take this at face value. And while there are some energetic numbers on Sao Vicente such as the disc's closer "Pic Nic Salamansa," Evora challenges the listener to take her music as it is or leave it. If you walk away, it's a pity; while it takes a few more brain cells to comprehend her music, it's worth it in the end.

Sao Vicente mixes Latin and Caribbean rhythms with raw emotion and, when the moment calls for it, a light touch. This is not a disc you'll appreciate on a cursory listen - regrettably, something most listeners only have the time for. Sit back with a cocktail and really listen to this disc - and find its true magic.

Rating: B

User Rating: Not Yet Rated



© 2001 Christopher Thelen and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Windham Hill Records, and is used for informational purposes only.