The Weekend Australian - Review - - Music Reviews - Tony Hil­lier

Far from Home Ca­lypso Rose Be­cause Mu­sic ONLY A COU­PLE OF TRACKS TRULY RE­TAIN THE EASY­GO­ING ESSENCE AND CADENCE THAT GIVES CA­LYPSO ITS AL­LURE Re­plete with so­cial and po­lit­i­cal com­men­tary, ca­lypso is a genre that puts more em­pha­sis on lyrics than al­most any other id­iom. The words of McArtha Linda Sandy-Lewis, the 76-year-old ca­lyp­so­nian queen known as Ca­lypso Rose, have been es­pe­cially in­flu­en­tial — even trans­for­ma­tional — in her Caribbean is­land home na­tion of Trinidad and Tobago. Sadly, long-term fans will lis­ten with mixed emo­tions to what will more than likely be the last new re­lease in the six-decade, 30-al­bum ca­reer of a feisty per­former who has over­come a de­bil­i­tat­ing stam­mer, can­cer and heart at­tacks in an event­ful life. Only a cou­ple of tracks on Far from Home, a souped-up set with con­tri­bu­tions from the manic world-mu­sic-by-num­bers guru Manu Chao, truly re­tain the easy­go­ing essence and cadence that gives au­then­tic ca­lypso — the pre­cur­sor of ska and reg­gae — its al­lure. Un­for­tu­nately, in a mod­ernised soca-style re­vi­sion of Ca­lypso Rose’s 1970s hit No Madame, a song that sparked a law change in re­la­tion to the treat­ment of do­mes­tic ser­vants, the words are sub­servient to the ar­range­ment. An­other revered com­po­si­tion, Woman Smarter, ben­e­fits from a less fre­netic ap­proach, al­low­ing the singer to max­imise tongue-in-cheek enun­ci­a­tion: “Ever since the world be­gan / woman was al­ways fool­ing man.” Ca­lypso Queen ra­di­ates charm, be­tween re­spect­ful horn stabs from Kobo Town, while re­flect­ing the grand old dame’s in­de­fati­ga­bil­ity: “They say I been singing for too long / But me con­sti­tu­tion is strong / In­stead of re­spect­ing me long, long reign / They mak­ing blood to take down me name.“

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