Here Lies Love: A Song Cy­cle About Imelda Mar­cos & Estrella Cumpas

Pasatiempo - - Pasa Tempos - — Casey Sanchez

(None­such) Have you ever wanted Steve Earle to im­per­son­ate Philip­pine dic­ta­tor Fer­di­nand Mar­cos and croon to you over ’ 90s club beats by Fat­boy Slim? Yeah, me nei­ther. But such fare is typ­i­cal in Here Lies Love, a 22-song con­cept al­bum about the glam­orous life and no­to­ri­ous times of Imelda Mar­cos. The al­bum is the brain­child of David Byrne, who makes it clear in the liner notes there’s noth­ing cruel or ironic about this project. Slim pro­vided the beats, Byrne wrote the songs, and the vo­cals be­long to a ver­i­ta­ble cruise ship of tor­pe­doed tal­ent. Cyndi Lau­per gets the despot boy-meets-clotheshorse girl track. Dap-Queen Sharon Jones vamps it up on “Danc­ing To­gether,” a slinky R&B club ode to Imelda’s nights at Stu­dio 54 that re­calls Fat­boy Slim at the height of his “The Rock­afeller Skank” knob-twid­dling pow­ers. There’s some­thing oddly charm­ing about retro New Wa­ver Santigold in per­sona as Imelda brag­ging about her global diplo­matic pow­ers and shout­ing out disses to cor­rupt states­men: “Nixon, Cas­tro, Zhou En-lai and Qaddafi / Is easy and I tell you’ll why.” In the tiny cir­cles that make up the Venn di­a­gram of lis­ten­ers for this al­bum, I can barely see the pin­head for that odd­ball au­di­ence that must have its 1980s Third World pol­i­tics, Broad­way mu­si­cals, and tepid club an­thems all in one pack­age.

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