Lara Bello, “Sola” from Sikame (2017): One Track Mind

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Lara Bello’s new album Sikame on Biophilia Records hits on many different cultures, from Europe (her homeland of Spain) to North America (where she now resides in New York City) and from Latin America to Africa, yet her combination of cultures is seamless and inviting. “Sola,” the first track from her stellar third release, is a perfect example of Bello’s songwriting heft, lyrical gravitas and her engaging voice.

Like most of Sikame, “Sola” is sung in Spanish yet is inviting and uplifting. Lara Bello wrote all the lyrics for the album and collaborated on the music with with keyboardist, arranger and producer Gil Goldstein, Spanish bassist Carles Benavent, Benin-born guitarist Lionel Loueke, Cameroonian bassist Richard Bona and the late bassist Charlie Haden on a few songs. She employs jazz, pop flamenco and Arabic and African music elements in an uplifting manner to look at the contemporary scene in America and around the world.

“Sola” – and, indeed, all of Sikame – is not overtly political, but Lara Bello does touch on the current state of immigration in the U.S. and the plights of African refugees. The track is buoyed by the airy touch of guitarist Romero Lubambo and flutist Hadar Noiberg’s call-and-response interaction with Bello’s passionate vocals. “Sola” grabs the attention of the listener with the acumen of the musicians, but keeps that attention with the charm of that voice.

Indeed, Lara Bello’s writing and vocals are so captivating that it’s nearly impossible to listen to all of Sikame in one sitting, from the opener “Sola” to the enticing “La Semilla. But it doesn’t take repeated listenings to know that this is one of the best jazz/pop recordings of 2017.

Preston Frazier

Preston Frazier

Preston Frazier is a bass-playing lawyer living in Atlanta. His first Steely Dan exposure was with an eight-track cassette of 'Pretzel Logic.' He can be reached at slangofages@icloud.com; follow him on Twitter: @slangofages. Contact Something Else! at reviews@somethingelsereviews.com.
Preston Frazier
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