Parlato’s husky vocals finding sympathetic accompaniment in Loueke’s guitar and voice

Edition: EDN1216

Gretchen Parlato: Voice, Percussion; Lionel Loueke: Guitar, Voice, Percussion; Mark Guiliana: Drums; Burniss Travis: Bass; Marley Guiliana: Voice

Recorded March 2nd – 4th March 2022 by Pete Min at Lucy’s Meat Market, Los Angeles

Having appeared on each other’s records for the past decade or so, it was inevitable that Parlato and Loueke create a recording of duets. Half of the 12 tracks are duets, with Parlato’s husky vocals finding sympathetic accompaniment in Loueke’s guitar and voice, with percussion shared between the two.

On the other tracks, additional bass, drums and vocals broaden the rhythms and help the musical journey around South America and Africa (but always centred on, and returning to, Brazil and Benin).

At times, Loueke’s plucked guitar takes on the timbre of a kora or other traditional stringed instruments. At other times, his playing takes on a driving funk, as in ‘If I knew’, track 3, or a languid bossa nova, as in ‘Astronauta’, track 5 ( one of several stand-out tracks on the set), or the complexity of flamenco, as in ‘Painful joy’, track 10.

Their take on the Foo-Fighter’s rock ballad ‘Walking after you’ retains the melancholy of the original with a different time signature that deliveries a surprisingly moving rendition (offering an elegy to Taylor Hawkins, the Foo Fighters drummer, who passed away a month after this recording).

Anyone familiar with Loueke’s playing would not be surprised by this breadth of styles and how easily in slips between these. Equally, Parlato’s peerless vocals would be well-known to her fans around the world.

This set brings out the best in both of them.  As Parlato says in the press release for this album, playing together is like working with someone ‘who finishes your musical sentences’.