“La Jardinera,” Silvana Kane (Six Degrees)
Albums like Silvana Kane’s “La Jardinera” should be compulsory for all young performers. Because while many artists nonchalantly steal from their influences without so much as an acknowledgement, Kane pays direct tribute to hers.
The vocalist for the Canadian act Pacifika is a native of Lima, Peru, and “La Jardinera” is her interpretation of 20th Century songs written and performed by South American artists.
Kane gives them sophisticated polish, modernizing the songs with atmospheric arrangements that emphasize her understated, breathy vocals plus the evocative trumpet of Malcolm Aiken. Guitarist/banjo player Adam Popowitz and bassist Toby Peter, who both co-founded Pacifika with Kane, round out the instrumentation.
Purists might prefer the original versions of these songs in their more raw, more histrionic form, but it seems likely the singers who popularized the tunes, including the late Mercedes Sosa, would have approved of the revamps. After all, the themes in these songs of romance and revolution include embracing change and following your heart.
Others might quibble that Kane and company are overly gentle with their adaptations of songs that are so filled with soul, but the result of the tender treatment is both tasteful and engaging, with Kane trading out melodrama for welcome subtlety. And the lone trumpet wafting through the mix is often sublime.
Listeners will be especially transfixed by the gorgeous strains of “Soy Pan Soy Paz Soy Mas” (penned by Piero de Benedictis of Argentina), the caressing heartbreak of the title track (by Violeta Parra of Chile) and the surreal ambience of “Cardo o Ceniza” (by Chabuca Granda of Peru).
Kane also includes an admirable pair of songs she co-penned, including closer “Vida Llena,” which honors her grandmother.
Perhaps someday future generations will pay such dignified tribute to Kane.
Rating (five possible): 4