Cape Verdean singer Mayra Andrade has just been named as a nominee for Best Newcomer in the 2008 Awards For World Music, and her classy album Navega has a musical depth and consistency to more than warrant that honour. At first it’s quite difficult to get past the opening track on the album, Dimokransa (Democracy), a light and airy song of dashed democratic hopes and one of the defining world music moments of 2007. Possessing a seductive lusaphone swing one expects from the music of the Cape Verde islands (situated off the West coat of Africa, but with a strong relationship to Brazil), the song is spiced with an extra lyrical bite and one of those hooks that immediately feel as if they have been around forever. Andrade has a strong, smoky voice, not as blues-soaked or evocative as fellow Cape Verdean Cesaria Evora, but with enough depth of expression to carry off the range of styles employed on the album. Further investigation reveals touches of samba, jazz, the occasional morna piece (Poc Li Dente E Tcheu a particular highlight), chanson (the catchy French-language Comme S’Il En Pleuvait) and the rootsier Cape Verdeane styles, funana and batuku (the best example being the funky Lua, which is similar in name and style to Mayra’s compatriot and batuku stylist Lura). Scattered throughout the collection also are what might be termed straight “world” music songs which reflect Myra Andrade’s international background (Cuba, West Africa and — currently — Paris have all been home for a songstress still in her early 20s) — soft-focus, mostly-acoustic music with accordion and horns colouring in the percussion, bass and acoustic guitar, all providing a framework for the effortless, confidently cool (but never too languid) vocals of a highly talented young woman. Always charming but never boring, this is an impressive introduction indeed.
This review first appeared on www.flyglobalmusic.com