'Acústico' is a striding and powerful work. Proof, if proof were necessary, that Tito...
Robert Jackman 2007
There’s a vigorous debate over the etymology of the word morna. Some argue that the genre owes its name to the English verb ‘to mourn’.
And to those people, the opening tracks of Acústico, a live greatest hits album from Cape Verdean crooner Tito Paris, will be a gift. His sorrow is heartfelt and his melancholia is almost tangible – it’s fantastic ammunition for their argument.
But this is downplaying Acústico – it’s a release which will be welcomed by a much wider audience than that. For this is far more than a polished recital of Paris’s poignant charms.
This is a bold attempt to capture the evolutionary spirit of Cape Verdean music. It confidently straddles influences from both Portugal and Africa – at times blending tender and languid expressions of saudade with buoyant cuts of up-tempo funana.
There’s a wonderful duality to Paris’s music – it’s drenched with maturity yet without the slightest trace of aged complacency. At times it bewails times passed, while at others it prescribes a bold and bountiful future. But thankfully these warring emotions complement rather than contradict each other.
Paris’s tender vocals are supported by an ensemble of stellar backing musicians – all under the supervision of Portuguese conductor Tomás Pimentel. Several instruments deserve singling out for praise. In the masterful hands of Toy Viera, the cavaquinho sounds delightfully distinctive, while a vivacious percussion unit gives the album its backbone.
Acústico is a striding and powerful work. Proof, if proof were necessary, that Tito Paris is fruitful musician at the top of his game, and a burgeoning ambassador for Cape Verde. For fans of Cersaria Evora and Lura, this is an essential release. And for everyone else, it will certainly be intriguing.