In Debut Album, Ladama Reinterprets Sounds From 4 Countries

Jan 2, 2018
Originally published on January 2, 2018 7:46 pm
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(SOUNDBITE OF LADAMA SONG, "NIGHT TRAVELER")

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

This is the sound of LADAMA. It's an ensemble - four women from four different countries - Brazil, Venezuela, Colombia and the U.S. Our music reviewer Banning Eyre told us about the group's debut album called "LADAMA" when we asked him for his favorite discoveries of 2017. And he says it's worth your time in this new year.

BANNING EYRE, BYLINE: LADAMA's four principles met at a 2014 fellowship program produced by the State Department's Bureau of Cultural Affairs. The idea was to nurture cross-genre collaboration. And to say these four women clicked is an understatement. It sounds like they've been making music together all their lives.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "NIGHT TRAVELER")

LADAMA: (Singing) Hello, my night. You are tricking me again - count myself backwards as I fall into your hands.

EYRE: The songs on LADAMA's debut are mostly sung in Spanish, this one being an exception. They draw on specific South American genres, driving maracatu from northeast Brazil, folksy joropo from the high plains of Venezuela and Colombia's irresistible dance music cumbia, pumped up here with a battery of Brazilian percussion.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "CUMBIA BRASILEIRA")

LADAMA: (Singing in Spanish).

EYRE: Aside from their barreling grooves and effortless vocals, LADAMA showcases some unusual instruments, variety of South American drums played by Lara Klaus of Brazil and Daniela Serna of Colombia and Mafer Bandola on a rare Venezuelan lute, the bandola llanera.

(SOUNDBITE OF LADAMA SONG, "AGRESTE")

EYRE: LADAMA composed 9 of the 10 songs here, blending influences freely. But the group's originality shines particularly well on their one cover, a funkified read of the 1969 protest song "Compared To What." With Sara Lucas' commanding lead vocal, a driving bandola riff and the rolling thunder of bass and percussion, LADAMA both feminizes and globalizes a classic American rant.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "COMPARED TO WHAT")

LADAMA: (Singing) Where's that bee, and where's that honey? Where's my God, and where's my money?

EYRE: LADAMA takes on traditional genres with confidence and vigor without being constrained by their conventions. The result is a vivid montage of music of the Americas with irresistible spirit and universal appeal.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "PORRO MARACATU")

LADAMA: (Singing in Spanish).

SIEGEL: Banning Eyre is senior producer for Afropop Worldwide. He reviewed LADAMA's debut album.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "PORRO MARACATU")

LADAMA: (Singing in Spanish). Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.