Francesca Ancarola

Sons of the Same Sun

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It's somewhat risky for a popular foreign language artist making a debut in the U.S. to blend her native language with English for lyrics on the same song -- sometimes in the same line! -- but it works well emotionally for this popular powerhouse Chilean singer on her first Stateside release. Francesca Ancarola, whose first solo CD Que el Canto Tiene Sentido was nominated for the prestigious Chilean Altazor Award in 1999, perfectly fuses her backgrounds in jazz, rock, chamber music, and electro-acoustic sounds on the ten tracks of Sons of the Same Sun. She applies her flair for the emotional and dramatic to a variety of unique settings, from the balmy, ambient romance of "Moonlight" to the gypsy funk (with blistering horns) of "To the Shore of the Sea." The lower-key material like the moody, flamenco guitar-spiced "Primera Luz" gives her voice a greater chance to shine, but even songs like that have fanciful instrumental interludes which seem designed to further enrapture the listener. It's also encouraging that despite singing a lot in English and targeting this album somewhat towards the smooth jazz market, there are quite a few touches of home, including the choral energies, handclaps, and odd rhythms of the inspirational "Scarebadthings," which includes the Santana-like guitar edges of Emilio Garcia. Ancarola is also adept at more mainstream jazz on pieces like "Alla" and "Hotel Room," although her vibrant vocal intensity on the former might prove a bit overwhelming at times for fans of more subtle trio-type jazz. Stylistic diversity and exotica, there's no mistaking the amazing strength of her voice and the emergence of a major talent kept under the equator for too long.

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