Various Artists

Global Women: Ethnic Songs From 14 Countries

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On this album, ARC takes advantage of their extensive catalog to put together an album of pieces from previous releases with a single theme -- women. Competing labels such as Putumayo have done well with this type of release, and ARC has a notable roster to draw from. With this extensive catalog, they do a good deal of continent hopping from song to song, starting in the Sudan and jumping to a Turkish Israeli songstress before jumping to a Welsh work and back to Libya. The jumping continues to Madagascar, Bolivia, Greece, and Kyrgyzstan, and beyond, through any number of regional styles. This amazing diversity does tend to lead to some dissonance between songs that would have perhaps been avoided to some degree by moving thematically through the pieces. Nonetheless, it spreads the display out like a peacock's feathers at the same time, to show the breadth of style they have available. Highlights of the album include Libya's Dalinda (recently brought to the stage by Hossam Ramzy), Hanitra from Madagascar, and Zulma Yugar from Bolivia, accompanied well on a set of panpipes. Young fadista Cristina Branco also gets a chance to show off her powerful vocals to good effect, and Miriam Makeba rarely fails to please. Women's world albums are nothing new, but this one is worthwhile musically, and deserves a spin from anyone who's already heard the Putumayo ones.

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