'The Capitalist Blues' - Leyla McCalla

McCalla's singing lends an additional layer of meaning, with its knowingness, circumspection and composure.

... That needn't be anything close to a dry, academic exercise, as McCalla proves on The Capitalist Blues. The new album, her third, imaginatively maps her vision of the Afro-Caribbean diaspora and summons bodily, social and emotional wisdom through its dance music, gently taking Anglocentricism down a notch in the process. The Haitian-American singer-songwriter has said that moving to New Orleans nearly a decade ago helped her connect more viscerally to historical Haitian Creole resilience and musical expression. She's spent the years since primarily accompanying herself on cello — using it as a choppy, churning rhythm instrument rather than a lyrical one — in bilingual contemporary folk ballads and string-band compositions. This time, she laid her cello aside in favor of electric guitar and tenor banjo and enlisted an R&B-reviving veteran of the New Orleans club scene, Jimmy Horn of King James & the Special Men, to produce. A rotating cast of musicians — including specialists in the living traditions of various Haitian, Brazilian, Cajun, zydeco and calypso styles — supplies the feels and textures she wanted. ...