On her debut CD No Balanço do Mar, Portuguese-born Catarina dos Santos strives to combine the best sounds of the African diaspora, most notably Brazil and Cape Verde. Instead of sticking to one definitive style, however such as the samba, bossa nova or the morna her music incorporates multiple Afropop elements. The end result is a delightful auditory flight to some of world music’s most inviting destinations.
The CD begins with the wistful "Mãe Bia Rosa," suggesting the sounds of the Cape Verdean morna. However, as with all her music on this album, she does not attempt to mimic any one particular style.
Dos Santos wrote all the music and collaborated with artists from Cape Verde, Angola and São Paulo, Brazil. The precise artistry demonstrated on each piece yields stimulating music that is refreshingly nuanced.
The second half of the CD, which is more captivating than the first, begins with some solid string work from bassist Juan Acosta and violinist Sergio Reyes on "Nu sta pidi tchuva doce." It is followed up by the jazzy Céu-like "Osobó," the sunny, danceable Cape Verdean tune "Odju bibo, Pé ligeiro," and the sambaesque "Kimbombó," highlighting keyboardist Eduardo Nazarian’s fender Rhodes.
On the last cut, "El Barrio Mayombe," dos Santos achieves a sound reminiscent of Brazilian singer Maria Rita, as exemplified on her laudable 2005 release, "Segundo."
While placing dos Santos on a pedestal beside Mônica Salmaso or Marisa Monte is a bit premature after all No Balanço is her first effort those who love to explore alluring Afropop divas should certainly take note.