Mark Masri

La Voce

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In the United States, adult contemporary is widely regarded as mainly for English-speaking audiences. But the truth is that adult contemporary thrives in a variety of languages. The romantic Latin pop of superstars like Marco Antonio Solís, Joan Sebastían, José José, Luis Miguel, and Juan Gabriel is essentially adult contemporary performed in Spanish; Laura Pausini and Eros Ramazzotti are two examples of Italian singers who have recorded a lot of adult contemporary for the Italian-language market. So bearing all that in mind, it makes perfect sense for Canadian singer Mark Masri to favor a multilingual approach to adult contemporary on La Voce (which is Italian for "The Voice"). On a purely musical level, the Toronto native doesn't do anything wildly experimental on this 58-minute CD; he isn't combining salsa with Celtic music (which Scotland's Salsa Celtica have done) or blending Mexican duranguense with Dominican bachata (which Los Horóscopos de Durango have done). Rather, try to envision what might happen if, say, Phil Collins or Celine Dion sang in several different languages on the same album; that is the type of thing that Masri does on La Voce. This ballads-oriented effort doesn't achieve a lot of musical diversity, but it certainly achieves linguistic diversity -- and Masri sings as convincingly on the English-language tracks as he does singing in Italian on "C'è Sempre Musica," in French on "Je T'Attendrai," and in Spanish on a translation of Sting's "Fragile." Ewan MacColl's "The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face" (a major hit for Roberta Flack in 1969) is performed in both Italian and English, and "Erev Shel Shoshanim" (a male/female duet with singer Amy Sky) is performed in Arabic and Hebrew. But all that linguistic diversity doesn't prevent Masri from maintaining a gently romantic ambience; La Voce is an easy listening album that just happens to be in six different languages. Anyone who expects La Voce to be an ultra-daring world fusion type of affair will be disappointed because -- again -- Masri is more daring linguistically than he is musically. But La Voce could easily go down in history as one of the more memorable adult contemporary/easy listening releases of 2010.

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