'Ms. Evora is singing as well as she ever has, so no worries there. Listening to Voz...
Jon Lusk 2003
This ninth studio album by Cape Verde's most famous singer is very much a back-to-basics affair. Gone are the lush string arrangements, celebrity guest vocalists and Cuban dalliances of Sao Vicente de Longe (2001) an album which probably significantly broadened her audience without making too many compromises.
Voz DAmor is just Cesaria Evora and her core band, many of whom have been playing with her for most of her international career which began in 1988 when she was 47.With her worldwide CD sales now exceeding 4 million, she can afford to do what she wants. So it's hardly surprising she should decide on an album of songs closer in spirit to those that originally brought her fame; simply arranged mornas and coladeiras.
Many of these are songs she has been singing for a long time but haven't until now made it into her touring repertoire, such as B.Leza's "Isolada", previously covered by Bana. Another gem is "Velocidade" by the late Louis Morais, another much-revered figure in Cape Verdean' song. Though it doesn't exactly race along, it's a swinging little mid-tempo coladeira with delicately piquant clarinet from Chala one of only a handful of invited musicians whose contributions are all pleasantly understated and skilfully integrated with those of the group.
Other noteworthy guests include Chicoy, who contributes subtle Ry Cooder-ish electric guitar on "Beijo Roubado", and Madagascan accordionist Regis Gizavo, a player who seems to be able to mould his instrument to almost any style, evidenced by the ubiquity of his session work. The group themselves are led and arranged by long-term collaborator Fernando Andrade, whose limpid piano tinkles away delightfully through much of the album.
Ms. Evora is singing as well as she ever has, so no worries there. Listening to Voz DAmor is a pleasant way to spend an hour. It's just that it does drift by with a kind of inevitability, offering few surprises to those who know her past work. This is not exactly a no-frills album and quite possibly a good place to start for the novice. But I can't help feeling she might benefit from being a little more adventurous next time perhaps by exploring some of Cape Verde's numerous other roots styles.