Various Artists

Putumayo Presents Romantica: Great Love Songs from around the World

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If most labels decided to assemble a collection of romantic world music, they would tend to make obvious choices like Latin ballad singers Julio Iglesias and Jose Jose. But Putumayo has never been a label that inundates listeners with obvious choices, which is why its compilations are such an adventure. While everything on Romantica can be described as "romantic world music," the 11-song CD is hardly one-dimensional. Looking to Europe, Africa and Latin America, Putumayo provides everything from Greek music (Nikos Kypourgos' "The Gypsy Girl") and Scottish music (Dougie MacLean's "She Will Find Me") to caressing sounds from Brazil (Bella Velloso's "Toda Sexta-Feira"). If you need an example of how diverse African music is, just compare Ugandan singer Samite's pastoral, folk-influenced "Ngwino Rukundo" next to Sudanese vocalist Rasha's sexy and jazz-minded "Azara Alhai." Another real gem comes from Brazilian singer Fortuna, whose "Ay, Madre!" draws on Spanish and Middle Eastern music instead of modern Brazilian pop or samba. Boasting one surprise after another, Romantica is one of the many reasons why Putumayo is a name that all world music enthusiasts should be familiar with.

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