Reviewed by David Lynch, Fri., July 16, 2004
Antonio DionisioSongs From Javaland (Marolo)
Albums with guest musicians often collapse under the weight of all those gifts. Not so with Songs From Javaland, the second full-length from Brazilian composer/guitarist/vocalist Antonio Dionisio. Tracked in Austin and Rio de Janeiro, Javaland picks up where Dionisio's 1994 debut Afro-Brazilian Rhythms left off: Brazilian-seasoned songs of the African diaspora. Here, however, the proceedings are tighter, yet more diverse. A veteran of Austin's lively international music scene, Dionisio's vast experience, fueled by an engaging personality, serves the tropical troubadour well via an impressive list of co-conspirators: band members from Lyle Lovett, La Tribu, Milton Nascimento, and Paul Simon. Dionisio's compassionate pipes are backed on a few tunes by the trio of reggae queen Tchiya Amet, One World Theatre co-founder Illuminada, and Samba Policewoman/ Catavento member Susanna Sharpe. The ladies shine on "Soukous From the Congo," as do Tamasha African singer Ben Simiyu and guitarist Russell Scanlon. Alejandro Escovedo offers a wonderful, albeit too short, vocal cameo on the ebullient "I Got a Crush on Sissy." Dionisio O Sol at the center of this planetary talent plays acoustic guitar while singing in English and Portuguese, and it's Javaland's upbeat tracks, "Samba Gift," "Muqueca," and "Forró o Ano Inteiro" that resonate best. No sophomore slump here, just a genuine international talent and first-rate bandleader.