Nearly eight years after her death, the music of Lhasa de Sela continues to have great resonance, not just in her home city of Montreal but around the globe. The passing of time has confirmed the timelessness of her material, and the enduring emotional power of that gorgeous voice.
Both are on vivid display on this live album, recorded over two nights in Reykjavik in 2009, near the end of her life. It's fitting that the concerts were in Iceland, a place known for its magical qualities. The 14 songs here primarily comprise selections from her third and final self-titled album, as well as imaginative reworkings of earlier favourites such as "Con Toda Palabra" and "La Confession."
The concerts featured a band comprising such elite Montreal players as Andrew Barr and Sarah Pagé of the Barr Brothers, Joe Grass and Miles Perkin, and their intuitive musical empathy shines brightly. Pagé's harp and Grass's pedal steel playing provide atmosphere to enhance de Sela's rich vocals. The Spanish-sung songs do not need a translation to have an emotional impact, while a slow and haunting version of Sam Cooke's classic "A Change Is Gonna Come" will induce chills. Most of the album will, in fact.
The extended applause captured here could have used a little editing, but that's a minor quibble. Live in Reykjavik is a work of shimmering beauty. (Audiogram)