New Reviews: March 8, 2004

Reviews by Paula E. Kirman

Cascade Folk Trio
Old Street
Bandaz Records

Cascade Folk Trio presents Armenian culture and music through their work. Armenia has struggled through the years with earthquakes, genocide, and other issues, all fodder for the Trio's lyrics. Musically, they use many traditional Armenian instruments, with folk, jazz, and R&B influences. Lyrically, themes of love also showcase another side of Armenian life. Old Street uses the 5000 year old language as well. Authentic and moving, Cascade Folk Trio bring their corner of the World to the rest of us.

Ladysmith Black Mambazo
Raise Your Spirits Higher
Heads Up International

What can I say about Ladysmith Black Mambazo to add to their already impressive and deserved reputation? Known for their collaboration with popular artists like Paul Simon, the bouncy, acapella African group reach into their souls for an album of Gospel and inspirational songs on Raise Your Spirits Higher. The band is led by Joseph Shabalala, a Zulu who converted to Christianity in the late 1950's. The ten-member band now includes four of his sons. The final track of the album is a touching English-language tribute in hip-hop style by some of Shabalala's grandsons to his late wife Nellie, who was tragically murdered in 2002. This album will not only raise your spirit higher, but sometimes move you feet to dancing, your mouth to singing, and your eyes to tears.

Warsaw Village Band
People's Spring
World Village

"Bialy glos" means "white voice," and was a type of communication that people used in Poland to cover vast distances -- using only their voices. On People's Spring, the Warsaw Village Band uses this style of singing, combined with modern arrangements. The lyrical content is also contemporary: themes of feminism and youthful rebellion abound. People's Spring will certainly open your ears to the traditional sounds of Poland, and open your mind to the future.

Laurence Jalbert
Ses Plus Grands Succès
Les Disques Audiogram

Laurence Jalbert is one of the leading ladies of Quebec's singr/songwriters. This album is a best-of collection, with songs like "Tomber," "Encore et encore," and "Bella." Jalbert has a strong, sometimes raspy voice with a wide range. She exudes strength in her peformance, and uses an array of fine musicians to back her up. Jalbert's style heavily leans towards pop/rock, with a depth and quality that is rare.

Paula E. Kirman is the Webmaster and Editor of Inside World Music.