Cesaria Evora: Cesaria Evora & ... – review

(Sony Music)

I've always been a little suspicious of albums consisting entirely of duets – it seems like an easy way of reworking a back catalogue, and doesn't always sustain for a full set – but this one is different. Evora is the one of the most distinctive, exquisitely sad and soulful singers in the world and, over the past two decades, she has collaborated with an extraordinary number of other global celebrities. She didn't need to, of course, for her pained and personal morna ballads don't require help from outsiders, but these recordings show how well she could interact with other musicians. She's from the Cape Verde islands, and her songs have always been influenced by Portuguese fado as well as African and Brazilian styles. Here she duets with a who's who of singers from Europe, Africa, Brazil, Cuba, and the US. There are 17 studio tracks, dating back to 1993, along with a couple of live performances, on which she is joined by the Greek singer Eletheria Arvanitaki for a cool treatment of her classic Sodade, and Brazil's Caeatano Veloso for a simple, guitar-backed version of Negue. Elsewhere, there's a fine, soulful duet with Angola's Bonga, a charming, easy-going contribution from Salif Keita (from his Moffou album), intimate, sensitive piano work from Cuba's Chucho Valdés, and a gently swinging duet with the late Compay Segundo. Evora effortlessly dominates almost every song.


Robin Denselow

The GuardianTramp

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