Manze Dayila And The Nago Nation Sole

Haitian refugee Manze Dayila had never sung before arriving in New York via a circuitous journey that saw her wash up on a Florida beach eight months pregnant. This disc is her debut, crafted with the aid of producers Jamie Propp and Adam Chalk. The best aspects of this disc are those that make Haitian music great in the first place: skittery beats, fleeting guitar rhythms and massed choruses. Then the intrusive production tempers the dynamism. Clean synth sounds, slightly dub-y mixing (especially when trying to introduce a spooky weight to voodoo themes in the music) and guest instruments from around the world, such as tabla, kora and balafon, purport to bring a more universal sensibility to the record. Dayila’s voice is rich and regal, with power rather than natural ability as its strongest asset. This should lend weight to heavier subject matter like "Ceremonia” but despite the slightly darker atmosphere, it doesn’t come off as threatening or awe-inspiring, just dusky adult contemporary. These songs almost pull-off innovation but nothing is relentlessly dance inducing. The reggae beat of opener "Kwi” is a nice touch, setting a bass gravitas for this album, but it’s not sustained. (AS IS)