Local Wire

Julia Sarr & Patrice Larose

Of all recent cross-cultural collaborations, the pairing of Senegalese vocalist Julia Sarr and French flamenco guitarist Patrice Larose proves to be one of the most refreshing. Sarr, who cut her teeth singing backup for Malian singer Lokua Kanza and Senegalese superstar Youssou N'Dour, jumps into the lead role like she was born to be there. Her lyrics remain typical of African folk forms -- creation, roots, lullabies -- though her style blends into Larose's Spanish-influenced idioms superbly. Jazzy undertones come alive on "Waruna" and "Flor de Mi Secreto"; the pair is obviously comfortable in many modes. The quieter numbers are effervescent, as on the heartbreaking "Xalè Bu Ndàw" and "Set Luna Djamonodjî." The latter features mbalax innovator N'Dour, also the man responsible for bringing this duo to large audiences. Larose's patient, skilled temperament shines on the upbeat "Guem," the African percussion filling out his sparse Malian-based chords. Being both artists' debut as lead musicians, Set Luna is a welcome introduction to a promising future.
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Derek Beres