Falu presents impressive universe of sounds on debut CD
Here are mini-reviews of a few recent CD releases:Falu, Faluproduced by Palmyra Delran (Monsoon Records)Most artists despise the word crossover, but its hard to avoid using it regarding Falu. The one-name singer crosses cultures; born and raised in India, she moved to the U.S. in 2000 and is now based in New York City. She was trained as a vocalist in the Jaipur music tradition, a strain of Indian classical music. She has appeared in a variety of settings, including Yo-Yo Mas Silk Road Project, and collaborated with hip-hopper Wyclef Jean for the score of the movie, A Place in Time. Yesterday, at the Jazz Aspen Snowmass Labor Day Festival, she performed as a member of the worldly groove-jazz ensemble, Global Noize.And here, on her debut album, Falu comes across as something of a singer-songwriter, but one who uses a universe of sounds to back her words. Indian accents are only a part of it; on a take on the Sam Phillips song Same Rain, there is a blues-rock element. At other times, the Indian instruments tabla; the lute-like sarangi; the voice of Falus teacher, Ustad Sultan Khan are tweaked to recall old rock n roll on Quiet Storm, and newgrass on Hey Baby.Falu is one of the more impressive voices of the globalization of music. Keep an ear out for her.Michael Franti & Spearhead, All Rebel Rockersproduced by Sly & Robbie, Matt Wallace and Franti (Anti-)Michael Frantis albums of the last decade have deftly mixed elements of soul, hip-hop, rock and more to deliver his messages of social consciousness. On All Rebel Rockers, though, the San Francisco Bay area native and resident Franti seeks to be a specialist, making something close to a pure reggae album.In concept, this comes as no surprise; Frantis willingness to speak out on issues of justice go hand in hand with Bob Marleys approach, and reggae has always been one of the pieces in his sonic puzzle. But to go so far as to record in Jamaica, with a group of Jamaican players led by the famed rhythm section of drummer Sly Dunbar and bassist Robbie Shakespeare still hits pretty strong when you actually listen to All Rebel Rockers.Franti pulls it off remarkably well, injecting his sense of poetry, charisma and songwriting into the reggae frame for a fresh-sounding take on modern reggae.Little Feat, Join the Bandproduced by Mac McAnally and Bill Payne (429 Records)Little Feat gets the guest-star treatment here, and its hard to think of a band more deserving, or one whose catalogue makes more sense to pay this kind of tribute to. Over 40 years, Little Feats music has spanned the range of rock, with hints of honky-tonk, funk, soul, zydeco and more.Joining the band here is a correspondingly wide range of guests: Bla Fleck and Sam Bush from the acoustic realm, Brooks & Dunn and Vince Gill from the country corner, the Black Crows Chris Robinson and Phishs Mike Gordon from the jam world. Virtually all of it makes some sort of artistic sense, even the version of Something in the Water with guest vocalist Bob Seeger.Highlights include a take on Little Feats own Time Loves a Hero, with Jimmy Buffett, that emphasizes the songs calypso feel; and a playful Sailin Shoes with Fleck, Bush and Emmylou Harris that weaves through blues and country. Another tune with Fleck, a cover of the Bands The Weight, is acceptable, though one wishes they had showed more imagination and picked something other than that oft-interpreted firstname.lastname@example.org
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