Reviewed by Gregory Keer
Sure, it’s only March and cold weather still threatens a lot of our fair land. This is all the more reason to step into the warm ocean-spray sounds of Grenadilla, an American vocal ensemble that borrows much of its music from the South African kwela tradition. Grenadilla (pronounced “gren-a-dill-a”) also takes its name from the South African word for passion fruit, which makes all the sense in the world, given the sweet and exotic nature of this 14-track recording,
Led by singer-songwriter Debbie Lan, who produced the project with Dog On Fleas frontman Dean Jones, the album rolls forward with “Sitting on Top of the World,” an upbeat song that would be comfortable as the kindie-rock cousin to Paul Simon’s Graceland. The fine musicianship (which includes Lan on the traditional pennywhistle and piano as well as Jones on various instruments) is matched by the creamy smooth voices of Grenadilla’s six female singers (Lan, AnneMarie Callan, Brittany Sacash, Natasha Williams, Jodi Palinkas, and Leah Glennon). The musical blend works wonders on such tunes as “Doodle Doodle Doodle Doodle Do” (with its verbal play), “Can’t Wait” (with its Laurel Canyon folk), “Sunday Afternoon” (with its South African horns and American blues guitar), and “The Same as Me” (with its theme of individuality). The album rounds out dreamily with “When I Fall Asleep.”
Can’t Wait is like one of those small surprises you find in the sand when you’re not really looking. Pick it up and listen with your kids.
www.grenadillasings.com – $14.98 (CD) – Ages 2 to 9