Album Review: Elida Almeida – Kebrada [Lusafrica]


Elida Almeida: a beautiful name of rhythm. Kebrada, Elida’s latest release, is named after the village where she grew up in Cape Verde. Elida Almeida’s Kebrada is beautiful. Whoever is the architect of Kebrada’s songs is fearless and a visionary. Welcome, folks, to song after song of a splendid blend of rhythm and singing that sounds as if it is from the heyday of Afro-Cuban dance bands and the music they inspired throughout Africa. Think Orchestra Baobab, Franco, etc., but fused with traditional and contemporary African music, all sung by such an incredible young woman (she’s just 22). I say fearless because this music sounds like only its elegant self can do and as such is engineered to radiate the confidence of its musical direction.

Kebrada must have been a wonderful village to grow up in, judging by the lush brushstrokes we hear in the record. Each song is architected to produce deep feelings and dance, the sort of experience that one covets while alone with one’s thoughts, though at the same time it’s lively and engaging. The first song is “Djam Odja,” which is light, airy and full of energy.

Elida’s vocal abilities are impressive throughout. The album’s second song is “Kontam”, a slow jam of rhythmic guitar playing and affirmative singing. The elegance is de rigueur, as it is in every song, even in”Nha Rainha”, the most pop-like song on the album. “Nha Rainha” sounds the most personal to Elida, but that may be because of associating its sound with her image.

Kebrada’s most impressive song is “N’kreu”. Rhythmically, it sparkles. Vocally, Elida asserts herself formidably. If it were not for her assertiveness, this album may have failed. It’s a brave project to undertake, fusing yesterday’s energy to the music of today but with a smaller band. It took a musician to stand firm in her convictions, which Elida does admirably.

The Havana that gave birth to the great Afro-Latin bands of yesteryear, playing rhythms from African religion, orchestrated to dance urbanites, had been lost to time, its communist descendent, in the end, no producer of such style, or at least as much as it was before. In Africa, boys and girls listen much less to such Afro-Latin music and its African versions nowadays, although it is central to the way that most popular African music is arranged. It’s fascinating that Elida proposes to us such music that signifies her village upbringing in Kebrada, all the while sporting a postmodern ‘hairdo’. It makes for fine artistry, that synonym for both technique and opinion, and this time it pleases and even amazes.

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