Josef Koumbas

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Josef Koumbas' second outing shows the British-born singer going back to Cuba to work with people he's befriended over the years. The results have the lightly percussive Cuban touch, but often owe more to the type of easy jazz typified by George Benson; indeed, several cuts wouldn't sound out of place on a Benson album, in part due to some stellar guitar work, as well as Koumba's own laid-back vocal style. That's the factor that makes this album stand out from the pack. He's a strong lyricist, and when he gets going, his unique delivery, which seems almost conversational, becomes quite hypnotic. Musically, this comes close to being too smooth much of the time. More of an edge would have helped it. Still, that very quality might help it find a larger audience.