Si*Sé vocalist Carol C is no Oran "Juice" Jones -- and that is a good thing. The electro-Latin/hip-hop-flavored group played Saturday at the Black Cat, where Carol C performed "The Rain (Where Do I Begin?)," a cover of Jones's decades-old admonishment of a cheating partner, "The Rain." The original version is an agitated tale of betrayal and revenge, but the songstress dialed down the aggression and, thanks to her soft, filmy tone, turned the delightfully cheesy track into an understated love song -- which is no small feat.
And the transformative powers of Carol C's lilting voice can work magic on more than just over-the-top '80s R&B.
Si*Sé, which performed with high-energy local salsa band Orquestra Ashe, draws inspiration from many sources, and the frontwoman's soothing vocals connect the innovative concoctions of producer/sound chemist U.F. Low. The Latin-disco styled "Agua," straightforward ballads such as "The Truth" and the Spanish-language lounge song "Amiga" all managed to play together nicely. Even the use of a violinist, which can often feel gimmicky, worked well. Tarrah Reynolds added depth without treading into Miri Ben-Ari territory and sounding precious.
On the title track from Si*Sé's 2005 sophomore album, "More Shine," Carol C's voice kept the work locked into a down-tempo groove. In a reversal of roles, the singer held the pace steady, which allowed the musicians to take the track in any direction they pleased without having to worry about sounding jumbled.
-- Sarah Godfrey