August 2008

Yusa - Haiku
Tumi Music 143
Format: CD
Released: 2008

by Shannon Holliday

Musical Performance ***1/2
Recording Quality ***1/2
Overall Enjoyment ***1/2

Cuban singer-songwriter Yusa delivers a poetic bouquet of soundscapes, intimate lyrics, and tastefully simple accompaniment on her latest CD. From the opening title track it is clear that mellow is the mood and relaxation key to the aims of the album. Yusa sings beautifully, whether in Spanish or English, her voice a soft hum as soothing at times as the sea she lives by and credits as her main inspiration.

It's also immediately clear that the songs on Haiku were given ample time and space to develop, unhurried until fully realized. Yusa plays a surprising number of the instruments throughout the album, from deft guitar fretting to in-the-pocket bass grooves, piano, keyboards, percussion and more. She approaches each song and its parts with a vision she wishes to create of the whole. She capably accomplishes just that. A snappy horn section, sound bites captured from Havana streets, and playful hand-clapping add mas flavor and an authentic Cuban tint to several tracks.

Invoking passing clouds, salty sea air and general peace and bliss, Haiku is poetry to the ears and draws the curtain open on a vibrant, creative, youthful music scene alive and well on the island of Cuba and embodied in the voice of Yusa.