The Mississippi singer’s 18th album radiates heartfelt warmth.
Daniel Spicer 2012-07-23
The country referred to in the title of vocalist Cassandra Wilson’s 18th album is, presumably, Italy. The set was recorded over 10 days in Florence, and finds Mississippi’s favourite daughter sharing writing and recording duties with Italian guitarist Fabrizio Sotti, who worked with her on 2003’s Glamoured.
You can hear the Mediterranean influence throughout – and not just in Wilson’s laidback version of the famous Neapolitan ballad, ‘O Sole Mio. Except for the opener Red Guitar, on which a loose, meandering electric lead sounds like something David Crosby might have laid down in the 70s, Sotti mostly plays acoustic, with frequent fiery flamenco flourishes, while Julien Labro’s accordion is fragrantly redolent of sunny southern boulevards and café pavement scenes. Electric bass from Nicola Sorato and understated conga from African percussionist Lekan Babalola suffuse the whole session with a sultry summery vibe – particularly on the jaunty bossa Almost Twelve.
Yet Wilson’s so thoroughly dusted in the dry soil of the southern States that she manages to overlay all this Latinate exoticism with a distinctly American sheen. No More Blues, for instance, is a simple, low-down soulful groove that wouldn’t sound out of place in any roadhouse jukebox.
And, of course, great emphasis is placed on that voice of hers. Husky yet smooth, like sand mixed with honey, it’s sophisticated, wise and sexy all at the same time, and seems to plug right in to the history of black American music.
On tracks like When Will I See, as she drops into the lower registers and the acoustic arrangement offers a luxuriant, dolorous accompaniment, Wilson even manages to capture some of the great heartfelt, jubilant sorrow that Terry Callier poured into his 1972 soul-folk classic, What Color Is Love.
Another Country is an album that radiates warmth. Not just the warmth of southern seas and skies, but the human warmth that beams directly out of Ms Wilson’s heaving heart.