Release Date: Jul 15, 2016
Record label: Because Music
Twelve years ago, that great Malian duo Amadou & Mariam transformed their careers by teaming up with Manu Chao to record for Because Music. Now the label features a new Chao collaboration, with the veteran star McArtha Linda Sandy-Lewis, better known in Trinidad and Tobago as Calypso Rose. She’s 76, still on impressive form and keen to experiment.
At 76, Trinidad and Tobago’s reigning queen of calypso should be on cruise control. Instead, she dazzlingly updates the genre she has dominated for a half a century while restating her sassy, feminist persona. The key to the transformation is a collaborative trio of producer Ivan Duran, Toronto’s Drew Gonsalves (plus his band Kobo Town) and the ever mercurial Manu Chao, who between them penned most of what Rose delivers with such relish.
It’s not often that an artist in their mid-70s, six decades into their career, turns in an album so full of life and joy that it opens them up to a whole new audience, but it’s possible that Far From Home may do that for Calypso Rose. Featuring the irrepressible Manu Chao on a number of tracks, this is a rich and lively Caribbean punch, betraying the expertise in the genre that has seen Calypso Rose not only win countless awards and play around the world, but have a real impact on people’s lives (Trinidad’s Prime Minister was forced to change the laws of the land with regards to the treatment of domestic servants in response to her 1970 smash single No Madame, reworked here). And yet it sounds fresh, new, young and is utterly infectious.