Di Korpu Ku Alma [CD & DVD]
As her name might suggest, Lura is indeed an alluring young singer from Cape Verde, by way of Lisbon. Although there's a torrent of records with similar pedigree, Lura's full-length debut (she was featured on 1999's Red Hot + Lisbon compilation) stands out. The rhythms, for one thing, are different -- not quite the teary mornas of Cesaria Evora or the up-tempo zouk-like coladeiras of perennial dance producers the Mendes Brothers. With her producer, Fernando Andrade, Lura explores less-well-known rhythms from this windy archipelago. "Mundo e Nos," for example, is a funaná from the island of Santiago, propelled by the scraping of iron knives. The instrumentation is equally considered, bursting with accordions, strings, and hearty choruses -- a restrained variation of the often too-slick Afro-pop emerging from Europe. Notably, the translated lyrics, especially those written by Orlando Pantera, are excellent: "Vazulina" and "Es Bida" paint indelible portraits of the miserable poverty of Cape Verde, at the same time capturing the zest for life that these far-roaming people seem to have inherited as a natural defense. It's in tackling themes like these -- serious music, serious lyrics -- that Lura, and her gorgeous voice, shines. The somewhat gratuitous DVD, a live concert in Paris, at which she shared a bill with Evora, unnecessarily jacks up the price of this set, but it's worth it to hear the arrival of a new world music star.