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Yael Naim: Yael Naim (Warners)

Yael Naim: Yael Naim (Warners)

The fact this French-Israeli singer has a song which currently helps sell the Apple Macbook has doubtless condemned her in some circles and to be honest that track, New Soul, is among the weakest songs on this folk-cum-jazzy outing (some sung in English, others on French and/or Hebrew). The album is co-credited to producer/arranger/artistic...

Asa: Asa (Naive)

Asa: Asa (Naive)

Channeling equal parts Bob Marley, Joan Armatrading, Tracey Chapman and Minnie Riperton would seem quite some feat, but this Paris-born singer-songwriter of Nigerian descent makes it seem effortless. Mostly singing English (some Yoruban), her subjects are universal injustice tempered with glimpses into the personal (love and lost love . . ....

The Garifuna Women's Project: Umalali (Elite)

The Garifuna Women's Project: Umalali (Elite)

The sudden death in January of singer-songwriter Andy Palacio from Belize robbed the Garifuna movement of an important figurehead. His album Watina took the distinctive music of the coastal people of north-east South America -- who speak Arawak, a native Indian language once found in Jamaica -- and put it into the pages of world music...

Rupa and the April Fishes: eXtraOrdinary rendition (Cumbancha/Elite)

Rupa and the April Fishes: eXtraOrdinary rendition (Cumbancha/Elite)

Gotta say on first listen this was definitley not my kind of music. It is a global meltdown of French chanson, gypsy music, tango, some vague French-Pacific suggestions, upbeat Latin rhythms and a bit of art music thrown in. All from a band based in San Francisco. It just sounded a bit too all-inclusive and cafe-friendly (missed anything,...

Rupa and the April Fishes: Este Mundo (Cumbancha)

Rupa and the April Fishes: Este Mundo (Cumbancha)

The implosion of Latin American party music, gypsy-swing, klezmer jazz and loping reggae is familiar enough in this country: from Kantuta, the Nairobi Trio and the Jews Brothers Band to the Mamaku Project and the somewhat questionable Benka Boradovsky Bordello Band we in New Zealand have been seduced, educated, charmed and dragged onto...

Various Artists: A New Day; The Laya Project Remixed (EarthSync)

Various Artists: A New Day; The Laya Project Remixed (EarthSync)

In the aftermath of the 2004 tsunami which swept across large tracts of Asia, music producer Patrick Sebag and others visited the regions to record and film local musicians. This became the Laya Project CD/DVD (reviewed here with some questions asked about the ethics of the thing, given it seemed no money went back to the people to help them...

Various Artists: So Frenchy So Chic 2011 (Border)

Various Artists: So Frenchy So Chic 2011 (Border)

These annual double CD compilations of recent music from France -- from pop to, yes, chic, but not alt.rock etc -- are the unofficial soundtrack to the Alliance Francaise French Film Festival (details here) but afford us the opportunity of hearing a swag of music from a country with a reputation of making the most awful pop. At least that's what...

Asa: Beautiful Imperfection (Dramatico/Border)

Asa: Beautiful Imperfection (Dramatico/Border)

Three years ago the self-titled major label debut of this Parisian/Nigerian drew intelligent links between the socially conscious music of Joan Armatrading, Tracy Chapman and Bob Marley, and contemporary soulful R&B. That album was a real gem, but regrettably went past far too many who might have embraced it, and Asa (pronounced Asha)...

Barbara Carlotti: Les Lys Brises (4AD)

Barbara Carlotti: Les Lys Brises (4AD)

Sounding somewhere between a wide awake Claudine Longet (who was so whispery you often wondered if she was singing or snoozing) and the cool, indifferent tone of Nico, this 32-year old Parisian really makes an impact, albeit at a very low level. She grew up on Simon and Garfunkel, Bob Dylan and classical piano, but made the move into chanson...

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