CD review: Cassandra Wilson

Another Country
(Membran 233573)

And the country in question is Italy. Although some additional recording might have been done in the more familiar Wilson setting of New Orleans, and some in New York, the album was recorded in Florence, and is very much a collaborative effort with guitarist Fabrizio Sotti.

All the songs are originals with one notable and apt exception, and they are songs united by their poise, grace and clear, clean structures. Wilson’s characterful, ever more relaxed and assured voice – it will be one of those voices we just know will age beautifully – is set against the now familiar acoustic guitar, bass and percussion landscape, but while the instrumentation might be familiar from recent Wilson recordings made in Jackson or New Orleans, the whole mood has subtly changed with the setting.

Sotti has worked with Wilson before, on the album Glamoured, but this is much more integrated, with most of the songs co-writtten and co-arranged, and the whole album co-produced by the pair. And the production is superb, allowing all the warmth of the electric bass, the wheeze of the accordion, the starlight of the guitar solos to shine through.

Red Guitar, the opener, shows what a natural lyricist Wilson is, while Passion has all that against a compelling groove and some superb fast guitar work from Sotti. The title tune is another highlight. When Will I See You Again is a simply solid gold song, with Wilson taking her time, the accompaniment waiting for her, and a lovely airy sense with tabla, electric bass and accordion filling all the right spaces, and another eloquent Sotti acoustic guitar solo adding the final touch

There are a couple of instrumental Sotti pieces which go a long way to adding light and shade to the overall programme, making the album a thoroughly rewarding 48-minute, single-sitting listen.

The non-original is the Italian classic O Sole Mio, here presented in two versions – a straight , slow one in the album proper and a bonus track called, quite aptly, O Sole Mio Funk. The former is lovely but the latter is a bonus in more than name. The band is clearly having fun and so is Wilson – it has that feel of a down-time reward now the hard work of the main album is done. It’s blissfully good.

Categories: CD review

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