New Reviews: November 15, 2004

Reviews by Paula E. Kirman

Gabriel Yacoub
Je Vois Venir . . .
Le Roseau/Harmonia Mundi

I will make absolutely no apologies for the fact that when it comes to Gabriel Yacoub, I am inexcusably biased. Words are hard to find that describe how much I love this man's music. Je Vois Venir . . . is a double-CD recorded live in January of 2003, the first release on Yacoub's own label Le Roseau (the reed). Along with an excellent back-up band of vocalists and instrumentalists, Yacoub's voice soars on many of his -well known compisitions, such as the title track, "Désir," and "Les Choses Les Plus Simples," one of his signature songs that has been covered in English by the late Dave van Ronk and in French in a duet between Joan Baez and Maxime Leforestier. Some parts of the album sound almost symphonic. A very special treat is a nine minute video of interview and concert clips. Fans of Yacoub who follow his website and mailing list have been looking for to this release for over a year, and it was worth the wait.

Richard Shindell
Koch Records

Richard Shindell is an American singer/songwriter who has been hailed by critics far and wide for his thoughtful, often philosophic observations about the world, life, and love that he makes in his songs. A folk artist who has gained much attention in recent years thanks to touring as a supporting act with Joan Baez, Shindell's latest musical venture is Vuelta. Full of Shindell's signature acoustic textures and warm voice, Vuelta is inspired by his life in Buenos Aires with his wife and children. Puente Celeste, the local band whom Shindell uses as back-up, add a Latin flavor to some of the tracks. Wistful and displaying the lack of innocence brought upon by the events of the world, Shindell also performs the Pete Seeger song "Waist Deep In the Big Muddy" and makes it sound as current now as it did in 1967. My biggest complaint about Vuelta is that it only has ten songs -- but what memorable ones they are.

Festival in the Desert
A film by Lionel Brouet
World Village/Harmonia Mundi

This is probably the first time I have ever reviewed a film here at Inside World Music -- and what a first time it is. Festival in the Desert is a documentary of the Festival in the Desert that took place in January of 2003 in Essakane, Mali, Africa. This sandy, windy place becomes alive with music, while showcasing the culture and history of the nomadic Touareg people. While mostly African music is featured, artists from other parts of the globe also perform, such as France's Lo'Jo, Blackfire (a Native American band from Arizona), and an amazing blues performance between U.K. guitarist Justin Adams and former Led Zeppelin frontman Robert Plant. Beautifully shot, with interview clips of the artists, Festival in the Desert is an audio and video experience that will take you right there in the Sahara Desert.

India: The Greatest Songs Ever Various Artists
Petrol Records

This is the latest CD in a series of related releases focussong on music from different parts of the World. Some of the artists include Lucky Ali, Trilok Gurtu, and Tabla Beat Science. The 11 songs do a fairly good job of representing Indian music, both traditional and contemporary, and is a good entry point for people new to the genre.

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