Friday, January 04, 2008

Tcheka: Lonji

Robin Denselow reviews Tcheka's Lonji.

It's suddenly a golden era for Cape Verde, off the coast of Senegal. Once known for their mournfully brilliant superstar, Cesaria Evora, the islands have produced a batch of impressive new singers, from Lura to the exquisite Mayra Andrade. On this showing, Tcheka deserves to join them, thanks to an album that matches light, soulful vocals with rhythmic, subtle and inventive acoustic instrumental work. He was once a cameraman for the islands' TV station, and there is a wide-screen quality to his stories of childhood and local life, and songs that often change mood and pace, under the confident control of his producer, the Brazilian star Lenine.
The album is dominated by the acoustic guitar work of Tcheka and his co-writer, Hernani Almeida, which is matched against unexpected percussive effects (including "hubcap" and "telephone book with brushes"), along with trumpet and accordion. The result is a gently driving, constantly changing set. However, it's unfortunate that no translation is provided for such apparently clever and thoughtful songs as Scarecrow and The First Time I Went to the Cinema.

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