Exotica exploits of a sensual kind from San Francisco’s intrepid chanteuse who knows no boundaries.
Renee Asteria’s fifth album may take her all over the place – so don’t be calmed by the cozy bossa nova of its acoustically laced title track – yet this place is inevitably sultry. Bringing in a variety of kindred spirits, the singer sometimes defies the circumstances of a song’s provenance, so you can never tell that the lazy “Zone” has been cut out of a long jam which happened on a Halloween night and then rhythmically augmented; and if Renee doesn’t go for a disguise here, guitar riffs of “Life” find her donning a heavy metal diva outfit.
Portuguese, Spanish, English and French get whipped up phonetically as dictated by the mood, and raps on the likes of “Change” – with Rahman Jamaal joining in for rhyming – are driven by pure passion. The same duo deliver a seriously charged performance on “Once Again” – throbbing, shining with brass, and then boiled down to natural essence in its majestic a cappella mix – but “Take My Hand” offers a catchy twist on funk to groove to before “Thankful” cracks a reggae smile to the world. It’s only on “Winds” that the song’s repetitiveness is chipping at its own progressive message, although this doesn’t matter much at the end of so fine a record. Maybe it’s not an adventure per se, but it’s an unexpectedly fine trip nevertheless.