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Written in fRoots issue 191, 1999

Coraçon Leve

Mélodie 67005.2 (1998)

This is one of those rare occasions when a press release would have been helpful.
      A mature voice, world-weary (in a good way), singing step-wise, floating, melodic, lyrical songs in Portuguese over a rippling, interweaving acoustic bed of two Spanish guitars, cavaquinho, bass and percussion. From the sound of it, it’s Cape Verde music, and very attractive. Even its country of origin isn’t to be found on the packaging, though. The cover shows a woman of at least middle age. Apart from the names of the musicians, the texts of the songs by the album’s producer Vasco Martins, with French translations, and that it was recorded at Studios Davout, presumably in France, in 1997 and 1998, that’s all the information there is. There’s a web-site address for the label, but a trip there finds the album not even listed, and a web search doesn’t turn up a single reference to the name Herminia.
      Vasco Martins is a well-known Cape Verde musician and composer, resident on St.Vincent. Though as far as I can see the website doesn’t say so, he has a number of albums on Mélodie. Here he seems to have written a set of songs and arranged them with guitarist Voginha for Herminia, with a result full of the serene morna wistfulness that so draws people to the music of Césaria Évora; it’s very likely they’d pick up on this too. It’s a fine album, and Herminia is a singer of considerable stature; it’s extraordinary that she seems so little known and apparently little promoted.

© 1999 Andrew Cronshaw

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