Susana Baca Travesías

Celebrated Peruvian songstress Susana Baca is one of those artists that require close listening in order to fully appreciate everything that’s going on her music, a point exemplified in her latest disc, Travesías. In a measured diversion from her previous, slightly more percussive offerings, the singer’s new material embraces subtlety and nuance as a musical mission statement, with each of her gifted backing musicians showing considerable restraint, even with instruments designed to make some serious noise. The muted, dubby electric guitar clank and distorted backing buzz of the soulful "Né Quelque Part,” for example, add a noticeable edge to that track, separating it from much of the record. On "Estrela,” Baca gets some vocal assistance from Brazilian Cultural Minister Gilberto Gil, while some poppy acoustic guitar strumming shares the role of the traditional percussion on the boisterous "Guillermina.” Through all of this, Susana Baca controls much of the album’s emotional expression, sliding beautifully between delicate tones and terse, biting phrases. To listen to her music intently is to see the history and traditions of her South American nation played out before you — a story the further reveals itself with each new release. (Luaka Bop)