Cassandra Wilson’s forthcoming release Another Country might well have been called “Another Voice,” so prominent is the work of collaborator Fabrizio Sotti, her guitarist and producer. His presence, on an album that more often than not feels like a series of duets, provides both a foundation assist and a smart foil.
Wilson’s 18th long-player, due June 26, 2012 from eOne Music, actually began as a series of musical conversations inside her New Orleans home studio, as she added lyrics to Sotti’s lithe chordings.
From there, they switched to Florence, Italy, where additional musicians were added — including percussionist Mino Cinelu, according master Julien Labro, Italian bass player Nicola Sorato and African master percussionist Lekan Babalola.
Each only contributes the lightest dustings of flavor, however, as Another Country traverses through jazz (the title track, “Almost Twelve”), blues (“No More Blues”), soulful balladry (“When Will I See You Again”), world music (“O Solo Mie,” “Passion,” “Olomuroro”) and a gutty brand of back-porch folk (“Deep Blue,” “Letting You Go”).
Yet for all of these sweeping variances in music styles, Another Country plays with a deceptive quietude. Wilson’s voice remains the centerpiece, and its oaken, endlessly mystifying character completely occupies the spotlight. She can move, as on “Red Guitar” or “Almost Twelve” from fragile beauty to a blue-steel defiance within one phrase, then back again into a resignation as sad as it is beautiful.