Cafes are key parts of societies around the world. They are places where people can go to relax and enjoy each other’s company, talking about everything from the silly to the serious. However, with nations around the world still battling the COVID-19 pandemic, many cafes still sit empty and quiet, waiting for people’s return. Enter World Music company Putumayo World Music. The company is helping audiences get in the café mindset (so to speak) with its new compilation record, Putumayo World Café. Released Friday, the 10-song record does well in putting listeners in that positive mindset. That is due in part to its featured songs. They will be discussed shortly. The booklet that accompanies the compilation plays its own important role and will be discussed a little later. The record’s sequencing rounds out its most important elements. Each item noted here is important in its own way to the whole of the compilation. All things considered, they make the record another welcome addition to Putumayo’s ongoing series of musical trips around the world.
Putumayo World Music’s latest compilation, Putumayo World Café is a presentation that any fan of the genre will find appealing. That is due in part to the songs that make up the record’s body. The songs are from artists from around the world. Famed Israeli musician Idan Raichel’s ‘Achshav Nish’Arnu Shney’Nu’ (roughly translated it means ‘Now There Are Only The Two of Us) and its gentle Middle Eastern infused song about two people just enjoying each other’s company at a café is its own good fit here. Much the same can be said of Italian singer-songwriter Alessandro D’Orazi’s ‘Profumo Di Caffe.’ Fittingly this song’s title translates into English as ‘Scent of Coffee.’ As noted in the record’s liner notes, one of the song’s key lines states, “I pass the window of that bar/The same where I expected you/I can’t help but think of you/It’s been a while since I’ve heard from you.” So yes, the song is in essence a work about a breakup. At the same time, its central theme also connects to the role of a café, so it is another good fit, lyrically speaking. The song’s musical arrangement, with its surprisingly light, gentle guitar line and snare drum presents the song perhaps as more of a story of someone looking back more fondly on the previous relationship than with remorse or regret. It will resonate easily with any listener. ‘Resonances,’ comes from Constance Amiot and JD Nataf. Amiot, according to information in the compilation’s booklet, has lived in the Ivory Coast, Washington, D.C., Cameroon, and now Paris. So what audiences get here is even more music from a quite well-traveled figure. The song itself is a light, graceful composition that lends itself to comparison to works from the likes of Jack Johnson and Jason Mraz. It is hardly the only song featured in this recording that presents comparisons to so much Western music. What’s more, the song’s light, gentle approach can just as easily be imagined playing through the speakers of a café in Paris as in the U.S. and any other nation around the world. Add in an equally light lyrical theme that finds the subject looking optimistically at the future, and it can even more easily be considered for any café setting. Considering that and everything featured in the compilation’s other noted songs (and the rest of its featured works), the compilation’s songs do plenty to generate their own interest for listeners here. They are just a part of what audiences will appreciate. The information provided about the songs (and more) that is provided in the compilation’s booklet adds its own interest.
The companion booklet that accompanies Putumayo’s new compilation record is important because, as noted, it provides so much information. The information in question is not limited to just background information on the songs. Each track receives a brief but concise discussion on the songs and the artists in terms of their backgrounds. Audiences also learn in regards to the songs, the albums to which the songs are connected. All of that information can and does serve as a starting point for any World Music fan’s discovery of new music and artists.
As if all of the noted background information is not enough, the booklet also provides recipes for food and drink that one might expect at cafes around the world. The featured recipes are provided by some of the acts featured in the compilation. One of the best of the recipes is for Cadurei Schokolade. In layman’s terms, the recipe is for coconut covered, chocolate balls. It comes from Idan Raichel. There is also a recipe for a delectable brunch dish calledCroque Monsieur/Croque Madame from Constance Amiot. It is essentially a specially made ham and cheese sandwich topped with a sunny side up egg. It features gruyere ham and béchamel sauce, and is baked in an oven. Foodies who want a cool drink for the increasingly warmer temps can enjoy African Ginger Juice. The recipe, from Mali, was provided by Moustafa Kouyate and Romain Malagnoux. It incorporates fresh peeled and chopped ginger, lemon juice, orange juice, and nutmeg combined with sugar and water. It is just one more tasty treat presented in the booklet. When it and all of the other recipes are joined with all of the songs’ background information, that whole proves the compilation’s booklet to be just as important to its presentation as the record’s songs. The booklet is just one more of the important elements to consider in examining the compilation. The sequencing of the record’s songs rounds out its most important elements.
The sequencing of Putumayo World Café is important to note for two reasons. First and foremost, the sequencing ensures that from one song to the next, audiences do not stay in one region of the world for too long. Case in point, the record opens with the traditional Aruban traditional song ‘E Ta Gia Me’ from Wally Warning. From there, audiences are taken across the sea to Paris in Miroca Paris’ ‘Mund Amor.’ The compilation then takes listeners off to Mali in ‘Moustafa Kouyate and Romain Malagnoux’s ‘Profumo Di Caffe.’ The journey continues from there back to Paris and then on to Israel, Estonia, and Haiti before closing out in Brazil. Simply put, the sequencing ensures that audiences get here, music from a variety of nations and from artists who have themselves called various regions of the world home. It is just one way in which the record’s sequencing shows its importance. The sequencing is also important because of its role in the record’s energy (and by relation its pacing), and change in styles.
The various styles presented in the songs have already been discussed in part through the discussion on the songs themselves. At this point, it is known that the styles change from one to the next. What is most interesting to note is that even with those changes, the blending of Western influence is still evident, making for more interest. Staying on that note (no pun intended), the sequencing keeps the record’s energy and pacing relatively stable. Each song is light in its own way, some a little lighter than others. Even with that relatively constant light sense, each song remains engaging and entertaining. What’s more, the positive mindset that each arrangement ensures (again thanks to the sequencing) ensures the compilation’s pacing remains stable. The result of all of this is that the record will leave listeners feeling fulfilled by its end. Taking that into account along with the importance of the songs themselves and the background provided through the record’s booklet, the record in whole becomes a presentation that any World Music fan will find worth hearing every now and then.
Putumayo World Café, Putumayo’s latest addition to its ongoing series of World Music offerings, is a presentation in which plenty of listeners will find enjoyment. The songs featured in the compilation will take listeners on a musical journey around the world’s cafes. The booklet that accompanies the record provides lots of interesting background on the songs and the artists performing each work. It also provides recipes for some rather delectable dishes served at those cafes. The record’s sequencing rounds out its most important elements. It ensures the record’s pacing remains stable and that the songs’ styles and nations change from one to the next. Each item noted here is important in its own way to the whole of the compilation. All things considered, they make the record another welcome World Music offering from Putumayo. Putumayo World Café is available now.
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