Cantos de Agua Dulce
To appreciate the vast varieties of folk music indigenous to Latin America-bossa, samba, son, lando, cumbia, bambuco-you could plane-hop from Havana to Rio to Buenos Aires to Cartagena to Lima, or save yourself several thousand dollars by simply luxuriating in the warm, cross-cultural bath that is Marta Gomez's sophomore disc. On 14 tracks, all but two self-penned, the Colombia-born, magna cum laude Berklee graduate transports the listener on a succession of downy clouds. Gomez's docility should never, though, be confused with fragility. Hers is a voice as hypnotic as Astrud Gilberto's but as sturdy and authoritative as Eliane Elias'.
Also, supple as these selections tend to be, there's no sense of dull uniformity. From the purposefully childish, carnavalito cheeriness of her "Seis" and creamy, lando richness of "Deceta" (Gomez's recipe for love) to the vibrant, flamenco perspicacity of "Canta" (dedicated to the victims of Madrid's March 2004 terrorist attack), this is a singer who is as intelligently multifaceted as she is multilingual. The overall impression is of a first-rate storyteller, at once grounded and fanciful, with freshness sometimes suggestive of clean Andean air, other times of a sun-dappled Brazilian beach, but always invigorating.