Unlike the pop music world, where youth is golden-even sometimes, when the music is less so-world music superstars come in all colors and ages, and they veer into the spotlight from unexpected directions. Witness the meteoric rise, in the past few years, of Cape Verde's Cesaria Evora, the seasoned singer whose 1995 Nonesuch album formidable success in the world music world has made her one of the best-loved vocalists outside the pop machinery. Now comes more historical back catalogue into a stateside store near you: Mar Azul (Nonesuch; 34:37) was recorded in 1991 in Paris, before her commercial sensation was established.
It's a worthy addition to the Evora catalogue, full of her uniquely bittersweet luster and quietly undulating rhythms. This is music of sadness and might, fully ripe yet yearning, and free of the additives of electronics or empty fashionability.