Luso Noir: Music from Portuguese Speaking Africa

If your ears have grown weary of the predictable smorgasbord of popular music, from rap to hip-hop to Top 40 to rock n’ roll to warmed-over country stuff, you might want to check out this album from 2011: a compilation that will take you places—musically, geographically, and maybe even spiritually, if you’re open to traveling that far.

Piranha Records has a roster of some of the best musicians in Africa, and they’ve gathered a terrific sampler here. My personal favorite is a song—“Dor di Amor”—by Tete Alhinho from Cape Verde, but there are also great songs here from Angola and Mozambique; places where rough colonial rule left a legacy that mixed the music of the native people with the evocative sounds of longing found in the music brought to those places from Portugal. Since we don’t have music stores these days, you’ll have to seek out the album from Amazon, or download it, but it’s worth the time to find it.

You needn’t understand a word of the lyrics on these songs to connect with it. “Saudade” is one of the words you may not know. It’s a word used to describe that sense of sadness, longing, and sweet melancholy found in all this music, no matter the subject or the tempo. It’s a sound I love. You might love it, too, if you want to travel so far from home.

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