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30 of 31 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Cassandra goes back to her roots in grand style., 12 Sep 2002
By A Customer
This review is from: Belly Of The Sun (Audio CD)
I shall say right now that I'm not one of those people who've got themselves all chewed up over whether she sings blues or jazz. That said, I've always felt she sounds at her best when singing blues. She has the emotional depth of interpretation that genuine blues requires and in that she is a singer of rare quality in that field in this modern age. So, I was overjoyed with Belly of The Sun as she returns unapologetically back to the Mississippi landscape of her origins, finds an old abandoned railway station to record in, (what unique acoustics) and gets right down to business during a sweltering August.
The first track "The Weight" comes in with a slightly Latin feel, very gentle, easy summer evening over a pitcher of Margueritas. "Justice" picks it up with a tinge of menace off electric guitar. Still subdued in arrangement like the previous track but more jazz-like without compromising those rhythmic drums. "Darkness On The Delta" is one of my faves. With a piano as the only accompaniment, it feels like a moment out of hours in a New Orleans bar, with the singer and pianist doing it for themselves. Nice bit of subtle jazz piano too. "Waters Of March" bring back similar instrumentation to the first track and its gentle sunset Latin feel.
"You Gotta Move". What a song. Classic blues, sung with such a feel of freedom, fully spontaneous, the other singers responding as the spirit moves them. Interestingly and ironically, this track and the last track of the album were recorded in a railway carriage as they had to temporarily move out of the station to make way for a wedding that was to take place. Strangely, also that this track and the last are my two favourite tracks on the album. That railway carriage must have had some effect !
"Only a Dream In Rio". Oh yes, no prizes for guessing the percussion goes a l'il bit Brazilian here, but still the songs remain with this feeling of easy spontaneity, no mean feat. "Just Another Parade" is another Cassandra Wilson penned song (so was "Justice") and it is her writing that really pulls in the more modern jazz feel here. But it still doesn't lose its Mississippi heart. The vocals here are shared with India Arie.
"Wichita Lineman" a slow, semi-torch song interpretation here that is really quite impressive, she gives every lyric an emotional weight that really makes you feel you are listening to someone's life story. What a talent that is.
"Shelter From The Storm" opens with some mixed guitar work and allows us to stay in the night-time space brought in by "Wichita Lineman". This is a great interpretation of a Bob Dylan song. Again, Cassandra's ability to sing a story with meaning comes through in abundance. "Drunk As Cooter Brown" is another Wilson creation. The song is definitely jazz. The arrangements, with steel drums and rhythmic drums really put an essence of New Orleans meets the Caribbean in, such a mixed cultural approach to a jazz-style. The touch of the Caribbean is perfect.
"Show Me a Love" persists with rhythym, a more street-feel this one, with the most subtle wah-guitar you'll ever here. "Road So Clear" opens virtually acapella, the instruments find Cassandra's voice to accompany her rather than the other way round. Ever so slightly low-down and dirty with lyrics that call for finding cleansing, to wash down with pure waters. This song leaps into a really spicy arrangement of a Robert Johnson song, as she has done on her previous albums. With a fast slide guitar and someone playing a plastic tub (!) "Hot Tamales" is short but keeps that feeling of Mississippi South. The only sound that could possibly add to this track would have been a sizzling pan !! She even breaks into some fast jazz scatting in the middle.
This album is so evocative, so full of colour and flavour that it should appeal to anyone who wants an album that captures that part of the world. It is also I would say, the most varied album she has produced that I have heard. There are no two songs on this that could be thought to sound the same by the first-time listener, something which I think her earlier albums are guilty of.
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32 of 33 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Blues & jazz perfection, 19 April 2002
By A Customer
This review is from: Belly Of The Sun (Audio CD)
I bought this on spec` having read a review in the Sunday Independent and I`m certainly not disappointed.This is an excellent collection of songs sung to perfection by Cassandra Wilson & accompanied by excellent musicians who do not overwhelme either her voice or the lyrics.
"You Gotta Move" simply sent shivers down my spine.It was recorded in a railway carriage in intense heat and it drips with sweat and emotion.Every track is good but this is blues at its purest and dirtiest.
My other highlight is the interpretation of "Witchita Lineman" which is a classic song that has been stripped down and re-built to perfection.
This c.d. is hard for me to fault...the choice of songs,production etc is outstanding....and for once the critic in the Sunday Indy ot it right !
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Deep dark velvety Cassandra., 29 July 2013
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This review is from: Belly Of The Sun (Audio CD)
Gorgeous and endlessly listenable-to. Songs you probably know and rolled out with Cassandra's deep rich vocals. A very good cache of songs to have at hand and enjoy.
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Belly Of The Sun
Belly Of The Sun by Cassandra Wilson (Audio CD - 2002)
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