Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Césaria Évora

  • Cesaria Evora [Nonesuch, 1995] **
  • Cabo Verde [Nonesuch, 1997] A-
  • Café Atlantico [Lusafrica/RCA Victor/BMG Classics, 1999] A-
  • Mar Azul [Nonesuch, 1999] Neither
  • Miss Perfumado [Nonesuch, 1999] Neither
  • Sao Vicente [Windham Hill, 2001] Dud
  • The Very Best of Cesaria Evora [Bluebird, 2002] **
  • La Diva Aux Pieds Nus [Windham Hill/BMG Heritage, 2002] *

Consumer Guide Reviews:

Cesaria Evora [Nonesuch, 1995]
the queen of morna, which is like fado only--no thanks to the Portugese, I'm sure--more African ("Flor na Paul," "Tudo dia de dia") **

Cabo Verde [Nonesuch, 1997]
I was struck by the English title of "Mar e morada de sodade": "The Sea Is the Home of Nostalgia." Usually "saudade," the equivalent of "soul" in Evora's morna style, is rendered "sadness" or "longing," terms that disguise the self-pity beneath its dignity--a self-pity that's easier to take out in the open. Rather more than on her renowned U.S. debut, that self-pity is swallowed up in the somewhat swifter flow of the grooves, a speed achieved at no loss of her fundamental fluidity. And I note that the two drop-dead melodies, both taken medium-fast and one featuring an utterly easeful James Carter, counsel confidently against despair and complacency. A-

Café Atlantico [Lusafrica/RCA Victor/BMG Classics, 1999]
I'm happy to report that Shoeless Cesaria reports herself happy. She likes being a star, and is proud to have spread the fame of her native land--now officially redesignated, in the soupiest thing here, an "Atlantic Paradise." To celebrate, she sells out big time, and does it ever suit her--her Brazilian concertmaster's swirling strings ruin only one of five tracks, and the kora, bolero, and danzon are all to the good. Meanwhile, over on the arty side, two previously unrecordeds from her twenties are bright standouts, and the lyric booklet is full of surprises. Never got her and wondered if you were worse for it? Why not start here? A-

Mar Azul [Nonesuch, 1999] Neither

Miss Perfumado [Nonesuch, 1999] Neither

Sao Vicente [Windham Hill, 2001] Dud

The Very Best of Cesaria Evora [Bluebird, 2002]
if it was, no one would know, but juicier than average ("Sodade [Remix]," "Sangue de Berona") **

La Diva Aux Pieds Nus [Windham Hill/BMG Heritage, 2002]
she wasn't young in 1988, but she was younger, and the lightness of her voice carries the strings if not the horns ("Bia Lulucha," "Destino Negro") *