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World Music CD Reviews Greater Latin America

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Yusa
Breathe
Tumi

By Paul-Emile Comeau

Published September 2, 2005

Besides winning the singer a couple of nominations for the prestigious BBC Radio 3 World Music Awards, Yusa’s debut also gave Cuban music a new image. Breathe, the follow-up, once again draws as much from jazz, rock and Brazilian samba as it does from Cuban styles. Although the Afro-Cuban elements aren’t totally absent, Yusa’s songs mostly reveal the free spirit of an innovative singer-songwriter, which explains why she’s been compared to such singers as Joan Armatrading. Yusa doesn’t sing in Portuguese, in spite of the Brazilian influence, but Breathe includes a couple of English songs, among them the bilingual title track. “Time Is Just A Shadow” draws its inspiration from modern jazz and funk rather than Cuban music. “Naufragio” is sung in Spanish but has a spoken mid-section in French. Except for “Noticia,” which has an unwieldy arrangement, Yusa’s sophisticated musical approach is compelling on songs whose themes cover longing, faith, chance encounters, love and loneliness. Judging by her output so far, Yusa may have the potential to become a Latin star on the same level as Susana Baca and Lila Downs.

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