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World Music CD Reviews Greater Latin America


Published April 19, 2006

Costa Negra
World Village/Harmonia Mundi

After 30 albums, Tania Libertad comes to U.S. shores with a release celebrating the Afro-Peruvian songs of her homeland. Though Libertad established herself in Mexico, singing everything from boleros to rock to classical, she was born, raised and first exposed to music in Peru. With Costa Negra, Libertad walks in the shadow of Susana Baca, who introduced the overlooked Afro-Peruvian genre to the world, including many in her own country. So how does it compare? Where Baca is soulful and earthy, Libertad is soulful and buoyant. Her Afro-Peruvian tunes, including “No Valentin” (which Baca also recorded), are more polished and pretty, whereas Baca’s are more rootsy. Cesaria Evora’s guest turn on an Africanized bolero, “Historia de un Amor,” is a highlight, as is the percussion-dominated “Ritmo de Negros” with Soda Mama Fall and Maty Thiam Dogo. U.S. listeners can see why Libertad’s voice has carried her far: powerful, clear and precise. Even if one wishes she’d let loose and funk it up, the album is thoughtfully arranged with beautiful moments.