On this self-titled album, her first for Nonesuch, the Cape Verdean singer Cesaria Evora delivers another batch of 12 strong songs. She is accompanied on this record by various guitarists and percussionists, with the occasional violin and accordion thrown into the mix. This added instrumentation supports Evora's singing (the undisputed focus of the record) marvelously. As usual, her phrasing is exquisite, her voice rising and falling like the tide, caressing the contours of the simple melodies. The charm of Evora's singing is that she sounds like someone's grandmother, singing to herself as she goes about her day's chores. It is this hominess that makes her so endearing, so magically restful. And with lyrics such as "you must work hard/so that tomorrow/you're not in need," the grandmother connection becomes even more obvious. This recording was overseen by Paulino Vieira in Paris, and, in addition to achieving a remarkably distinct sound, he also contributes exquisite guitar and bass (as well as other instruments). There are similarities between Cesaria Evora's music and other traditions: the buoyant rhythms are sometimes reminiscent of Cuban and South American musical styles, her vocal glissandos and bends are almost bluesy, and there are even shades of Mediterranean folk music evident in the contours of the melodies. However, the end result is something wholly unlike anything else. This is a very pleasant album, full of interesting sounds and seductive rhythms, and surely of interest to world music fans.
by Daniel Gioffre