One wonders how much the world knew of Cape Verde before Cesaria Evora crossed the seas with her soulful sounds and captured an international audience, putting this Atlantic archipelago on the map.
Cesaria made the morna and coladera styles synonymous with Cape Verde, and since the early-1990’s, her resounding success has remained unrivalled.
Now follows Lura, who continues doing justice to these styles, but also pays homage to other aspects of the island’s musical heritage.
Hailed as “the new voice of Cape Verde”, Lura was actually born in Lisbon in 1975 [the year of her country’s independence from colonialism].
Growing up in the city’s Creole quarter, she was exposed to international influences, and while these have always penetrated her music, they are most fully resolved on her latest, “Eclipse”.
As with her three previous international releases, she remains deeply connected to her ancestral country, proudly claiming her Cape Verdean roots with songs that are seeded in traditional styles.
She especially identifies with Santiago and Santo Antao, the islands of her parents, and she reinterprets these sounds with integrity – adding elements of bossa, samba, soul, jazz and even a touch of reggae.
From her father’s birthplace, Santiago, comes the percussive batuque which was originally performed by women; and the accordion driven funana and tabanka – styles which although outlawed during colonial repression, have remained for generations.
Lura also extends the legacy of the women of Santiago, with lyrics that speak of everyday life and social concerns, but her stories have a globalized and contemporary consciousness.
With roots in Lusophone Africa, it is not just Portuguese, her mother tongue, that enables Lura to cross the divide, it’s also her musical language. Bringing together urban and ancient elements, Portuguese and Cape Verdean culture, she stands as a bridge between Africa and Europe.
“Eclipse”, her fourth international album, was recorded in Brussels, Lisbon, Paris, Praia and Naples, and confirms her natural elegance and broad appeal.
The title-track, “Eclipse”, could be considered a tribute – written by one of the islands greatest songwriters, the late B. Leza, it’s also been sung by Cesaria Evora.
Here, Lura honours it as a treasure, deeply emotional and full of saudade [an exquisite melancholy]; it sets the tone for the album:
On the seductive and jazzy ballad, ‘Um Dia’, which was written with her in mind, by her bandleader and arranger, Toy Vieira, a radiant Lura literally shines.
The faster, funkier favourite, ’Quebrod Nem Djosa (Poor as a Church Mouse)’ is more outwardly flirtatious, and undoubtedly one of the album’s high points. Written by Vlu (Valdemiro Ferreira), one of Mindelo’s hip, young writers, it is an upbeat encouragement to Cape Verdeans facing economic adversity.
The Malagasy accordion master, Régis Gizavo accompanies Lura on three tracks, and the group Kantango join her for the final track, ‘Canta Um Tango’
adding a post-modern edge.
Lura’s voice is as clear and commanding as always, yet seductive enough to inspire younger generations to explore their roots.
“Eclipse” reveals the full extent of this songbird’s journey – with excellence and unaffected honesty Lura’s traversed the world to reach the soul of Cape Verde.