Cassandra Wilson: Another Country – review

(Membran)

With her Nina Simone-like low register and supple phrasing, charismatic Grammy-winning vocalist Cassandra Wilson could endlessly recycle her successful acoustic folk-blues repertoire. But with 2010's Silver Pony, and this similarly eclectic set made with the Italian guitarist and producer Fabrizio Sotti, she has revealed an eagerness to spread her wings. Sotti, a fine jazz guitarist with an occasional Django Reinhardt ring, has almost as much of the spotlight – and the light touch and subtle shading of this session, recorded in Florence, are also down to a French/Italian/Nigerian lineup featuring two percussionists (Mino Cinelu and Lekan Babalola), accordion and bass. Wilson sounds as unflinchingly rugged as of old on Red Guitar, and likewise on the traditional-sounding No More Blues. Her love affair with Florence somewhat unwisely led to the inclusion of O Sole Mio (sung in eerily inflected Italian), and the samba whispers of Almost Twelve don't entirely suit her, either. But the atmosphere of discovery, uncertainty and anticipation on the musing, low-pitched original Passion (a standout track) balances Wilson's unique vocal strengths, Sotti's elegant improvising and the band's soft glow. Her gliding variations over a chamber choir and accordion on the swaying Olomuroro aren't far behind.

Contributor

John Fordham

The GuardianTramp

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