Tuesday, July 14, 2009


…is a black singer from Portugal with roots in the Cape Verde Islands. She arrived at the Dakota last night to do two sets—flaming red dress, mountains of curly black hair, a smile as large as a telephone booth and a gleam in her eye that was pure delight. The delight comes from being on stage, from singing, from having fun, from showing off her gifts. Sexy, yes, but with a certain artlessness that seems to say, “Where I come from we enjoy ourselves, we sing, we dance. Why not enjoy life? Really. Why not?”

What you also notice is her petite but muscular body, and in the course of the show you begin to understand how she keeps in shape. Her dancing is a combination of arm and shoulder poses, hip shifts, leg pumps—the type of gesture you would do yourself if you were standing on a beach surrounded by tiki lamps with the surf rolling in and this kind of music playing behind you. But you wouldn’t do them nearly so well.

All of which is not to deny the appeal of the music itself. Lura’s voice is crisp, powerful, medium in weight, with little tremolo. She spits out the multisyllabic lyrics of the fast numbers as if they were little pearls and carries the slower numbers without milking them excessively. There is a straight-ahead quality to her singing, as if the words meant something to her, though she knows that no one is the audience can understand the Cape Verdian patois. (A friend who was with us at the show is fluent in Portuguese, but she could only pick out an isolated word here and there.)

The band is admirably restrained. The guitarist has pleasant gaps between several of his teeth; he grins often and supplies a light sprinkling of notes that sometimes almost sound like a steel drum. The bass player is solid and unassuming, the drummer—very fine. The pianist lent a touch of balladic pop to some of the numbers. And the violinist, complete with pony tail, laid down a piercing counter-melody from time to time. No one soloed much, though there were flashes of brilliance here and there throughout the evening. It was as if they were just as enchanted as we were by the infectious rhythms of the music they were creating, and by Lura herself.

Check out her music here.

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