It tends to be the case that the more motley the crew performing on an album, the more motley the music. And yet, there are times and groups that mix their divergent backgrounds and instruments perfectly. California seems to be a breeding ground for this type of successful fusion (War and Ozomatli, for example). Here, a collective of musicians from San Francisco combine for a series of songs in French, Spanish, English, and Hindi, all under the leadership of multiculturalist (and doctor) Rupa Marya. The songs seem to be based mostly in French traditions, but with a twist. Chanson has a hold on much of the proceedings, but there are shanties thrown in, political protest songs and sentiments throughout, and a soft, flowing Spanish delivery that can be pulled out when chanson isn't enough for the moment. The key here is in the modernization of the old sounds, though. An Argentine milonga may form the base of a piece, but a thumping guitar riff keeps it fresh. A gentle French love song is kept awake by a shimmering violin straight out of a Piazzolla composition. Although Rupa is at the front of the band throughout, it's probably the instrumentalists who contribute the bulk of the sound, with accordions, string jazz, and an occasional cello riff forming not only the foundation for the music, but much of the ornamentation. This is contemporary art music, elements of world music, jam bands, and street music thrown in for good measure. Maybe a bit too eclectic for some listeners, but certainly eclectic enough to keep the average jaded listener intrigued.
Performance CreditsRupa & the April Fishes Primary Artist
Marcus Shelby Upright Bass,Guest Appearance
Eric Perney Upright Bass
Sameer Gupta Tabla,Guest Appearance
Rupa Marya Guitar,Glockenspiel,Vocals
Aaron Kierbel Percussion,Drums
Adrian Jost Bayan,Bandoneon
Marcus Cohen Trumpet
Ed Baskerville Cello
Carey Lamprecht Violin,Guest Appearance
Technical CreditsMonte Vallier Engineer
Rupa Marya Composer,Producer
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
This debut album is a testament to the band's free spirited nature. Their music is playful, charming, original, and very French. Most of the songs are in French, complete with accordion, with one in Spanish and a couple in English. Rupa's command of several languages comes from her Indian heritage and her childhood living in France and then San Francisco, where she lives now, working half time as a doctor and half time on her music. I highly recommend this album.