This is Leyla McCalla‘s sophomore album after her praised debut “Vari-Colored Songs”. Leyla again plays cello, tenor banjo, and guitar and sings in English, French, and her native Haitian Creole (both her parents were born in Haiti).
There is a charming naturalness and simplicity in her songs, whether they are originals or covers of traditional pieces. I can’t help but find much joy and happiness in “Manman”, a wonderful cover of the 1988 song by Manno Charlemagne. The album features country touches (“Les Plats Sont Tous Mis Sur La Table”), chansons (“Far From Your Web”), and folk (“Little Sparrow”) and certainly has a lot to offer for all those Melody Gardot fans out there.
Leyla’s sound is pretty unique though with her intense, but not overused banjo and cello playing. Leyla also manages to convince with more haunting and dark stuff like “Vietnam” or “Salongadou” and with her unagitated, smooth voice. There are a lot of Haitian singers or singers doing Creole songs that tend to cry too much – but not Leyla who captures me with a subdued, easy and chilling vocal style that is really something.
Leyla is touring the US in June and with songs like the traditionals “Fey-O” or “Minis Azaka”, she comes up with something like the perfect soundtrack for the upcoming summer months. Uplifting, exciting and highly enjoyable.