on 9 October 2013
Leyla McCalla is a prodigious talent. The fact that last year's Carolina Chocolate Drops album was by far their most successful to date was in no small part due to the arrival of Leyla McCalla and her wonderful cello work (as well as Buddy Miller's natural production). With the self-produced `Vari-Colored Songs' Leyla steps assuredly into the spotlight.
The album is subtitled as `A tribute to Langton Hughes', the prolific African American poet, playwright and novelist. The material includes music written to Hughes' poetry, Haitian folk songs as well as Leyla's original songs. The performances are all acoustic, featuring a small group of players (including Rhiannnon Giddens and Hubby Jenkins of the Chocolate Drops) but often simply duos or solo. Chocolate Drops fans will appreciate the Jazz, Blues and Old-time country influences here, but by drawing heavily on her Caribbean and Creole heritage Leyla is also bringing something fresh to the party. This is a stunning, contemporary and yet timeless recording (the first of many I hope).
I should also mention that the CD is beautifully presented with photos, lyrics and notes. I purchased an advance copy during Leyla's recent UK tour with Rhiannon Giddens.
on 25 November 2013
Another Kickstarter project (like Valerie June). This is an extraordinary recording that captures the spirit of Langston Hughes so well. Ms McCalla (Carolina Chocolate Drops, a project in reviving Black Appalachian folk music) has emerged as a leader in what we can call the new African diaspora folk music movement, which brings rich traditions (in this case from Black Southern and French Caribbean traditions that was recognized by Hughes, Alan Lomax, and their generation of scholars and creative artists.
on 6 April 2015
I am totally excited by the album "Vari-Colored Songs". Leyla sings with feeling, but completely relaxed. Less accompanying instruments offers more space and strength to her voice. Her play on cello is also interesting. Each song on this album is a little gem and distinctive in its style and mood – truly “vari-colored”. Personally I like the most fragile "Mesi Bondye", "Love Again Blues" in the style of Tom Waits, Leonard Cohen or early Tim Buckley, "Rose Marie" played with the members of Carolina Chocolate Drops and the exceptional final song "Changing Tide". One of the best CD I have and I'm looking forward to another musical contribution from this amazing artist.
on 28 March 2014
Just heard Rose Marie by Leyla McCalla on a British Airways flight from Moscow. It was on Mick Jagger Playlist and just purchased the MP3.
With its driving rhythms, slick Caribbean Sounding vocals, Rose Marie is absolutely Great. Appears on the album - Vari-Colored Songs
Must get the Album