Review

Though in a very different way, Mouth Music's sophomore effort is every bit as satisfying as the band's debut. The differences are several: first, the exquisite Talitha MacKenzie is gone, replaced by the equally and separately fine Michaela Rowan and Jackie Joyce, one of whom brings the Celtic vocal inflections that otherwise would have gone missing with MacKenzie, and the other of whom brings in an interesting Franco/pan-African twist that energizes the gently churning "Birnam" and the loping "Maudit." Second, bandleader Martin Swan is clearly looking beyond the Celt-funk fusion he defined on the debut album, so this time we get a curiously compelling vegetarian anthem based on a Xhosa chant and the aforementioned French poetry, as well as the usual adaptations of traditional puirt-a-beul for which the band is named. The album closes with a gorgeous and deliriously funky live track called "So Step Off," during which Swan charmingly addresses the listener as "y'all." ~ Rick Anderson, Rovi

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