Cesaria Evora Rogamar

From her tiny island country of Cabo Verde, the African "barefoot diva” Cesária Évora has built a solid international fan base with her sweet blend of traditional Cape Verdian rhythms and subtle influences from across the globe. Today, at 64, Évora’s force is as strong as ever as she turns in a moody, easygoing tenth disc in Rogamar. Previous works have seen pairings with both Cuban and Brazilian musicians, and this time around the singer maintains the South American connection, calling on Brazilian arranger Jacques Morelenbaum to contribute the many string swathes that feature prominently on the album. There is a definite contemplative soul to the many odes to life and the sea that line Rogamar, like the sense of reserved commemoration that rings through the plaintive guitar melody of "Africa Nossa,” and the long winding build-up of "Sao Tomé Na Equador.” It’s a sound that, even in dealing with sadness and longing, as on the searching "Sombras Di Distino,” always manages an uplifting beauty. Évora makes sure to let the album burst open at points, delivering the sound and energy of Rio’s Carnaval with "Mas Um Sonho” to complete a record that thinks when it has to and grooves when it doesn’t. (Sony BMG)