Music Reviews

Susana Baca

Espiritu Vivo

Luaka Bop

There are few singers who have ever existed who have had the beauty, style, grace, and power of Susana Baca. She has to be the current star of Latin music, and her voice illuminates everything that hears it. Hers is a crystalline, creamy cherub that recalls heavily-filtered dream sequences in the bosom of heaven.

This Afro-Peruvian songstress has made it her singular mission to preserve the African traditions within her native land. But Espiritu Vivo is no ethnographer’s dream disc. Baca has a cross-eyed approach, looking towards the past and the future, Peru and the world, with a unique Pan-African and trans-global outlook. She accomplishes this monumental task with the help of a team up for the task: her usual gang of Latin performers along with keyboardist John Medeski, guitarist Marc Ribot, and the adept production help of Craig Street (Cassandra Wilson and k.d. lang).

Like Lady Cassandra, Baca has an amazing ability to make old material sound new and singularly her own. The Peruvian traditional song, “Caracunde,” Caetano Veloso’s “13 de Mayo,” Mongo Santamaria’s “Afro-Blue,” and Björk’s “The Anchor Song” are now all Baca’s and can never be reclaimed.

While I may have waxed a bit effusive (and corny?!) in this review, my words simply cannot do the singer or the CD justice. You simply have to listen for yourself.

Luaka Bop: http://www.luakabop.com


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