There's a lot more to Badyo than there initially seems.
Jon Lusk 2008
Most fans of Cape Verdean music will know that the musical treasures of this dry, windswept Atlantic archipelago aren't limited to the gentle mornas and swinging coladeiras of Cesaria Evora. Over the last few years, several younger artists have championed the more rhythmic, African side of their roots. But the group that really began this process were Simentera – the brainchild of Mario Lúcio, who was also their main songwriter. After their masterpiece Tr'adictional (2003), singers Tété Alhinho and Terezinha Araújo launched solo careers, along with Mario Lúcio.
This is actually Mario Lúcio's third solo album since, albeit the first to gain an international release. And while with Simentera, he concentrated on exploring Cape Verdean roots styles of the 20th century, Badyo goes back five hundred years, to when the Portuguese first brought African slaves through Cape Verde on their way to the 'New World'. Some remained on the islands – a diverse ethnic mix from different parts of West and Central Africa – and Badyo is a richly imaginative recreation of the styles they developed; coladeira, funaná, batuku, colecho, tabanka and others. After the slick production and celebrity cameos of Tr'adictional, the production and arrangements are relatively rustic, and Lúcio's softly intoned, almost conversational vocals take a while to sink in. But his tunes eventually work a subtle magic on this slow-growing but very satisfying album.
The gnawing of the local one-stringed fiddle or 'cimboa' on the opening batuku Amar Elo is just one of several novel sounds (for Cape Verdean music), which include harmonica, balafon, and home-made percussion. Reza draws on the polyphonic Latin mass of Cape Verde's breakaway Catholic sect, the Rabelados. If the tingling triangle and surging accordion of the funaná Diogo e Cabral seem to echo Brazilian forró, that's probably because the latter owes a debt to the former. And if Goré seems joyful, even light-hearted, take time to read the sad, poetic lyrics, which revisit the days of slavery. Like the cover image of Lúcio wearing a length of chain in place of a tie, there's a lot more to Badyo than there initially seems.