Toujours du Soleil

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A reconstituted Antena -- after nearly a quarter of a century away -- made for one of the more unexpected turns in Isabella Antena's busy career, but when the end results are as enjoyable as Toujours du Soleil, there's no need to complain. Though the guest list itself outnumbers the core trio at least six times, said trio -- in this incarnation Isabella Antena, Axailes Solar, and (in an amusing twist) Penelope Fasy, the daughter of original member Sylvain Fasy -- is in fine voice throughout, with all three taking turns on lead vocals (and thus keeping it from being an Isabella Antena album in all but name). Their blend of harmonizing provides often unexpected dividends, hearing the sudden but never startling additions to Isabella's own familiar tones on songs like the peppy "Caribbean Island" or, in a wonderfully left-field move, a near unrecognizable cover of America's "A Horse with No Name." The most dramatic change from the Camino del Sol days, perhaps unsurprisingly, comes in the arrangements -- instead of murky but winsomely captivating negotiations between post-punk melancholia and lighter pop roots, everything here is much more in keeping with Isabella's later and brighter blends of jazz, bossa nova, and gentle dance grooves. Often the latter stands a little more to the fore, though, adding an extra kick to tunes like "Blind Date" and "Love Is to Blame." In contrast, songs like the title track (with a beautiful fake-echo vocal break at several points) show the more traditional side to Antena very well. Meanwhile, Isabella Antena's most notable American supporters, the Thievery Corporation, help out with a bit of co-writing throughout -- besides the title track, there are the slinky but sharp beats of "Rendez-Vous Manque" as well as "Starlit Skies," written solely by Corporation member Rob Garza.

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