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CD Review: Susana Baca's Seis Poemas

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The Deal: Peruvian vocalist and songwriter Susana Baca sings poems by Latin poets.

The Good: Toning her voice for poems rather than songs, Baca expands her prowess on this six-song EP. The recording is musically flavored, albeit in sparse and unobtrusive manner, with Latin jazz and folk, and occasionally, a soft African percussive beat. The poems are turned into folk songs with Baca's style that whispers, croons and scats the words with guitar, flute, Cajon and percussion giving depth, without overpowering the voice. She sings Federico García Lorca's "Los Lagartos" (The Lizards), set to music by Paco Ibáñez. She covers three poems by Chabuca Granda, "El Bosque Armado (La Canoa)" (The Armed Forest [The Canoe]), "El Fusil del Poeta" (The Poet's Gun), and "Un Cuento Silencioso" (Silent Story), "Venadito de los Montes" (Mountain Deer), with words by Mario Florián and music by Juan Luis Pereyra Del Mar and jams on the longest tune, the traditional folk song "Resbalosas" (Slippery Ones).

The Bad: There are only six songs/poems on the album, clocking in around 25 minutes.

The Verdict: Largely unsung north of the Rio Grande, Baca's voice and songcraft are Peruvian and Latin music treasures.

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