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Sara Tavares

Balancê (Times Square)

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Singer-guitarist Sara Tavares hails from the island nation of Cape Verde and resides in Portugal; her seductive, slyly sweet vocals cavort between Portuguese, English, and Verdean Crioulo. But don't get the notion that Balancê is some facile "world-beat" crossover album.

Stylistically, Tavares' songs encompass Brazilian samba and bossa nova, the bubbling Afro-pop juju style of King Sunny Ade, and the sleek, introspective, jazz-infused folk-pop of Everything but the Girl and Rickie Lee Jones (whose singing Tavares' resembles).

Yet her music never comes across as pastiche, as Tavares seamlessly interweaves the aforementioned styles into her own understated approach. High points include the evocative "Rainy Night in Georgia," the tropical guitar riff "Dam Bô," the sultry "Lisboa Kuya," and the bittersweet angst of the entrancing, wraithlike "Amoré." If you've neither time nor money to escape to tropical climes, get Balancê, a blender, and a balcony facing away from traffic. Then close your eyes and dream.

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