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World Music CD Reviews Greater Latin America

YUSA

By Athena Masci
Published February 8, 2006

Yusa
Tumi Music

In her debut self-titled album, Yusa, the new spice from Cuba, takes her place among prolific Latina singers such as Celia Crúz and courageous artists like Tracy Chapman. The album casts contemporary Cuba in a sophisticated light of jazz and soft rock. A veteran of both conservatory training and the nightclubs of Havana, this gutsy songbird enraptures with sultry vocals and a catapult of emotion. Her tracks range from slow, moving piano ballads, “Canción en cuna para Freya,” and intimate guitar heart songs, “Tienta paredes,” to upbeat tracks infused with jazz, traditional Cuban sound and modern rock such as “La partida.” Grooves from the iconoclast jazz tradition and scat singing meld with Yusa’s melodic vocals and pioneering beat box and a percussive segment in “Chiquichaca.” An atmosphere of strength and longing melds with a fiery will to experiment and find her own voice; Yusa has arrived as a powerful new voice stocked with a profound knowledge of her musical roots and an innovative reinvention of Cuba.