Hanitra: Lasa, Songs From Madagascar (ARC Music)

 |   |  1 min read

Avia
Hanitra: Lasa, Songs From Madagascar (ARC Music)

Let's just go out a very thin branch now and say this: If Hanitra Ranaivo sang in English she might just be one of those Next Big Thing artists at the intersection of folk, pop and world music.

From the highland city of Fianarantsoa in Madagascar – the cultural centre of the island – she melds tradition with contemporary issues (deforestation, the political relationship between her homeland and nearby Reunion where she has also lived, same sex relationships, spousal abuse) and the album is dedicated to women.

She sings in the local Malagasy language (only Miroir is in French) but her voice – which glides over and between the backings of electric and acoustic guitars, bass, drums, the Afghanistan stringed instrument rubab, sitar and percussion – carries the listener by virtue of its purity, passion and clarity.

She also reveals a strident power when required (Mivalvo about the rapacious destruction of Madagascar's forests) but its when she sings more intimately (Myriam about the “forbidden” love) that this is at its most affecting.

Not everything here works – the title track becomes highly repetitive, a tendency she also has on Emancipation – but when she bounces off the springheel African rhythms or the gentle folk-rock settings you feel you are in the presence of a mature and thoughtful musician in command of her art.

Now in her 50s, she has a small catalogue of albums behind her, has performed at festivals in Europe, Australia and India, and is now on the creditable ARC Music label out of LOndon which should ensure her greater exposure.

She deserves it on the many strengths of Lasa which is at that interesting intersection of styles.

Share It

Your Comments

post a comment

More from this section   World Music articles index

Debashish Bhattacharya and Friends: Beyond the Ragasphere (Riverboat/Southbound)

Debashish Bhattacharya and Friends: Beyond the Ragasphere (Riverboat/Southbound)

The great Indian slide guitarist Debashish Bhattacharya has appeared at Elsewhere before because he not only makes hypnotic music, but that he also connects with an interesting tradition which goes... > Read more

Various Artists: Womad Australia and NZ 2017 Compilation (Cartell)

Various Artists: Womad Australia and NZ 2017 Compilation (Cartell)

Many people are so confident about having a good time at the annual Womad festival in Taranaki that they book for the following year immediately after the festival has ended. As with the Big... > Read more

Elsewhere at Elsewhere

CHRIS WHITLEY INTERVIEWED (1991): The Law man living with the lore

CHRIS WHITLEY INTERVIEWED (1991): The Law man living with the lore

Sometimes you can just get too much too soon - and the wrong kind of attention. Take American singer Chris Whitley, whose debut album Living with the Law has been picking up praise by the... > Read more

Luke Leilani and His Hawaiian Rhythm: Hawaiian Holiday (1966)

Luke Leilani and His Hawaiian Rhythm: Hawaiian Holiday (1966)

Although there is no shortage of albums by Luke Leilani (and his various groups), getting solid information about him is more difficult. He doesn't rate a mention in the thick Hawaiian Music... > Read more