"Di Korpu Ku Alma"
Although Lura was born and raised in Lisbon, her music is rooted in Cape Verde, the African archipelago nation best known to world beat fans as the home of Cesaria Evora. Lura has toured with Evora, yet their styles arise from different Cape Verde islands and are quite different. Unlike the older singer's melancholy morna, Lura's funana and batuku are brisk and syncopated in the manner of Afro-Brazilian samba. There are Europeanized ballads on "Di Korpu Ku Alma," Lura's U.S. debut, but most of the album features the polyrhythmic percussion and call-and-response vocals of West African music.
"Di Korpu Ku Alma" ("Of Body and Soul") is a two-disc package, including a DVD with a short documentary about the singer, two routine music videos and an eight-song live performance filmed in Paris. Those tunes also appear on the CD, which could easily stand alone. Such sinuous, pattering numbers as "Vazulina" -- an ode to straightening hair with Vaseline before going out on the town -- and "Na Ri Na" are irresistible. A few of the slower songs are a bit schmaltzy, but the lovely "Padoce de Ceu Azul" proves that Lura can deliver such material without sounding like she's auditioning for a Vegas gig. And the slicker tunes are easily offset by the buoyant rhythms and wry lyrics that characterize Lura's music at its best.
-- Mark Jenkins
Appearing Thursday at the Kennedy Center Millennium Stage.