Yasmin Levy Mano Suave

Yasmin Levy Mano Suave

Yasmin Levy's third album makes sizable leaps from 2005's La Juderia, allowing her dramatic voice to captivate via a range of rich flamenco and Sephardic tunes, both traditional and original, by Levy and her team, all superbly arranged and executed. Opening track "Irme Kero" (a folk song about a girl longing for Jerusalem) exudes spiritual ache, refined to a complex swirl of Arabic strings, such as the oud and qanoun, spinning percussion and shenai wind reeds in a dreamlike arrangement. "Mano Suave" (a Bedouin tune featuring a duet with Natacha Atlas), Levy's ballad "Una Noche Mas" and traditional Ladino numbers "Si Veriash" and "Una Ora" succeed most in shaping Levy's spectacular delivery with her intricately locked band. But adaptation counts. Levy, the most visible revisionist of Sephardic folk songs, strays towards a more embellished, "diva"-like phrasing. At times, this makes her hyper-passionate treatment overdone, especially considering the source material. This is a strong, much improved album though, setting up her fourth one, which is now hitting Europe and Israel. (Four Quarters)