April 7, 2005

Test Spin: Maria de Barros

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If music really is about mixing external influences to reinterpret the world, then no one is better qualified than Maria de Barros. Born in Dakar, Senegal in West Africa, de Barros spent her childhood in Mauritania and her teenage years in Providence, Rhode Island. Now residing in Los Angeles, de Barros is just teeming with decades of various musical styles.

Despite speaking six languages, de Barros sings primarily in Portuguese. The lively, salsa-influenced songs that make up the majority of her album, however, are a testament to her experimentation with Latin influences. Nevertheless, de Barros’s musical style of choice is that of Cape Verde in her native Senegal, not surprisingly once you realize that she is the goddaughter of five-time world music Grammy nominee Cesaria Evora. De Barros’s voice is soaring and pure on multiple tracks. The album’s production, luckily, isn’t complexly layered and the artist’s vocals remain unfiltered. Additionally, the upbeat, energetic tracks on Dance With Me are refreshingly contrasted with soulful ballads like “Espa