Koa

Koa

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When one plays this self-titled Koa CD, the word that is listed in the genre category is country. That is an intriguing word to see when a group's label, Indies Records, is based in Brno, Czech Republic; how often does country music come from the Czech Republic? But country, truth be told, is hardly a major influence on this 53-minute disc; so don't expect to hear a Czech equivalent of the Blood Oranges, Gretchen Wilson or Toby Keith. Actually, Koa's work is not easy to categorize. One could call it contemporary Czech -- an accurate, if vague, description of Koa's Czech-language material, which has been influenced by everything from folk-rock, jazz, soul, funk and cabaret to traditional Eastern European folk to Brazilian pop. "Valentyna" and "Voda, Muka, Chlieb," in fact, are so Brazilian-influenced that one almost feels like the lyrics should be in Portuguese instead of Czech (which is the album's dominant language, although "Caldo de Gallina" includes some Spanish lyrics). And on "Cirikleskero Tango" and the smoky "Zeli a Prejt," one hears another South American influence: Argentinean tango (think Buenos Aires by way of Prague). Hearing so many different influences from different parts of the world certainly keeps the intrigue factor high, but thankfully, Koa have more to offer than good intentions -- most of the time, their multiculturalism and experimentation pay off nicely. A few tracks miss the mark, but only a few -- and more often than not, Koa's work is as focused as it is risk-taking.

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