Cesária Évora

Distino Di Belita

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This might just be appearing in the U.S., but don't be fooled into thinking it's a new album from the diva of Cape Verde. Instead, it dates from 1974, Césaria Évora's first musical period (a year later, she quit music for a decade). The elements of her future style are there, with the sweet sadness of the morna. But it's largely unformed -- the maturity that makes her later work so compelling hasn't arrived yet. There's also an attempt to give a sheen to the sound that simply doesn't suit her voice, to make it more European than it really is -- and even then, more Paris than the soulful fado of Lisbon's back streets. Still, it's impossible to deny what she brings to songs like the title cut and "Pontero," although the piano bar version of "Nova Sintra" should probably be avoided like the proverbial plague. When an artist becomes successful, their more youthful work is often dragged out. But with "Evora," it's not to her embarrassment; in 1974 she wasn't the grand artist she'd become, but she wasn't at all bad. More than just for completists, this offers an excellent snapshot for all who are interested in hearing the roots of her sound.

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