Lura M'bem di fora

As opposed to her 2005 release, Di Korpu Ku Alma (Of Body and Soul), the new disc by Cape Verde native Lura, M’bem di fora (I’ve come from far away), feels like a single thought, a line of consciousness that flows through the whole album from beginning to end. This shouldn’t imply any kind of blandness or similarity from song to song, as there’s a huge variety, from the lively and danceable West African sounding funana rhythms of the title track, which bounces through melodic lines with accordion and crisp woodblocks, to the sweetly sorrowful ballad of "As Agua,” a heartsick, "waiting for the rain to come down” lament. Lura’s vocals are, as always, strong yet soft, present yet blended, assertive yet rhapsodic, weaving their way through each tune on a gentle stream of instrumental melody. But rather than disjointed images, we get a larger picture of an artist and a place. After the almost unsettling variety of her last album, she has come home, settled into her own voice and the music of her country, and brings us glad tidings from far away. (Times Square)