World Connection WC023
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Sara Tavares lives in the cultural melting pot of Lisbon. She is of Cape Verdean descent and like many other migrants from Africa, lives the tension of a mixed-up cultural identity. Just like anyone else living in voluntarily exile, there is an inner urge to return to or discover the original roots on the one hand and to accept the newly found culture on the other. In everyday life, the mixed cultural environment means that all expatriates have to communicate with their chosen new friends even though they speak different languages. The outcome here is a new language, an eclectic mix of at least Portuguese, Angolan, English and Cape Verdean creole. With the various roots and languages come of course their connected musical backgrounds and styles. However, as in all countries where cultures mix and match, the original inhabitants -- here the Portuguese -- reserve their thoughts on the new culture in the streets.

On the album Balance, Sara Tavares combines all the influences and languages with surprising ease as she expresses her newly minted cultural self. Instead of repeating old Cape Verdean styles, Sara uses all the musical influences she is exposed to in Lisboa every day. The result is a fresh, easy-going collection of songs. The lyrics meander through various languages and form a potpourri of sounds. Sara's voice is soft, light and warm. Rhythms follow the same influences from African to Brazilian, Reggae to Rumba, Samba to almost Pop.

On three tracks, the singer invites a guest singer. On "Poka Terra", one of the musically most interesting tracks in a plentitude of styles, this is Melo D. A reggae-fied foundation on "Planeta Sukri" has Boy Ge Mendes add a sweet voice. Fadista Ana Moura features on the last track "De Nua". All three guests add their own particular flavour to the sound and feeling of the songs. Tavares, who produced the CD as well, exhibits remarkable talent to make all tracks on Balance come off equally strong and coherent. Don't think easy listening. Many numbers sports multiple layers of either lyrics, rhythms or quotes and references to other songs and music.

Sara Tavares knows though how to keep things small and close to her. She avoids to go over the top in her compositions and her CD is one of those rare little gems at the end of some intrepid musical sampling. Africa, Europe and all that lies between and around comes together on Balance without barriers. If that's possible in music, let's pray it'll be possible as well in geo politics and international dealings.