The Garifuna Women’s Project – Umalali

The Garifuna communities of Central America’s Atlantic coast are beginning to seem like the new Cape Verde — there is so much good music coming out of there. The truth is that it has as much to do with the love of Belizean producer Ivan Duran for the music and the people as any one musician breaking it big


Umalali is one of those records that keeps getting under your skin. Plaintive harmonised voices call and respond over the traditional beat of the music and are subtly and successfully added to by sensitive production and additional instrumentation to produce an album that is every bit as good as the late, great Andy Palacio’s and a good deal more consistent throughout.
The album was built up over many years. Research giving way to field recordings, followed by studio recording, giving way to additional instruments and finally the whole thing was painstakingly produced. It is, like the Garifuna themselves, a fusion but where it succeeds over the vast majority of field recordings meet studio time projects is in the seamlessness of the end result. It feels every bit the kind of music you might hear sung on a Caribbean evening by a couple of guys with guitars coming back to the village and jamming with the women folk.
In music as in much of life, intention is every bit as important as execution. No sane person would go about making a recording in this way if their intention was just to spice up some traditional sounds for a global market.
Also welcome on this album is the variety of pace from the fast and frantic ‘Áfayahádina (I Have Traveled)’ to the anthemic and intoxicating opener ‘Nibari (My Grandchild)’ and back again to the catchy, sax-laden ‘M?©rua’.

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