Review Susana Baca – Afrodiaspora

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I have to admit that I sometimes become slightly lazy when it comes to the career of Susana Baca. Since falling in love with her voice and vision after hearing Espiritu Vivo in 2002 I kept close tabs on her music, that is until she went into overdrive recently, releasing four albums in the last four years, which I have been struggling to keep up with. Thankfully, there is absolutely no dip in quality.

It has always felt like Baca achieved fame at a good time in her life, where instead of achieving fame in her 20s or 30s, and then growing wary of it’s trapping in later years like many artists, she has been able to hit the ground running, full of enthusiasm and vigour, completely passionate about the Afro-Peruvian music she loves, but also with a true knowledge for the form which she could only have attained from years of study.

She brings this knowledge to her new album Afrodiaspora which steps slightly outside of the world of Afro-Peru to also look at ways in which African music has penetrated Colombia, Argentina, Venezuela and the Caribbean. In other artist’s hands this could be a very arbitrary task but Baca treats this music as she would the Afro-Peruvian greats of Chabuca Granda and Nicomedes Santa Cruz.

Thus, we get inspired takes on cumbia (“Detras De La Puerta”), the African rhythms of Puerto Rico (“Plena y Bomba”) and bolero (“Baho Kende y Palo Mayimbe”), the last of which is one of the most gorgeous song you’re ever likely to hear, infusing a gliding vocal melody, sparkling Spanish guitar and a Cuban rhythm to startling effect. The fact that “Plena y Bomba” contains a cameo from Calle 13 (one of the Latin world’s hottest rap/reggaeton acts) without it seeming out of place or unnecessary suggests that this is an artist that defies the normal corporate cash-in cameo nature of some of the world music.

Afrodiaspora is, in truth, a glory from start to finish, and suggest that we should make sure that we listen to every new Susana Baca on release because, more likely than not, it will be worth it!

Afrodiaspora was released by Luaka Bop and can be bought from Amazon and iTunes.


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