Gold and Wax (Palm Pictures, 2006)
Ejigayehu “Gigi” Shibabaw’s anticipated follow-up CD to Gigi, entitled Gold and Wax, is a quick and bright landscape propelled by Gigi’s spectacular vocals and some sharply crafted compositions. Guest appearances include some heavy hitters with India’s Ustad Sultan Khan, tabla master Karsh Kale, funk keyboardist Bernie Worrell, Africa’s Abesgasu Shiota, Hoges Habte Aiyb Dieng and Assaye Zegeye, as wells as MIDIval PunditZ and Skizz Fernando and guitarist Buckethead.
Crafted with an eclectic sophistication and intricate musicianship combined with Gigi’s earthy Amharic vocals is a recipe for sheer delight. The driving rhythms of opening tracks “Semena-Worck” and “Anten” backed by powerful brass section allow Gigi’s vocals to float over and within the musical landscape.
The plaintive vocals of “Jerusalem” are almost prayer like in their simplicity, but tend to be crowded out by the composition. Personally, I would have wished for a more spare composition and less technical enhancement on this particular track to really showcase Gigi’s vocals, for she really has touching delivery and captivating style.
Fans get a better taste of Gigi’s earthy vocals with the track “Salam” which sparkles with brass, tabla and with Bernie Worrell’s subtle organ playing. As “Salam” gives way to “Gomelaleye” the richness of the compositions blossoms and is full of heart.
One of my favorite tracks on the CD is “Hulu-Dane” with the exotic combination of Gigi’s bright vocals and Indian influences make this fusion of Africa and India delightful. Tracks “Acha” and “Enoralehu” are two more lushly crafted pieces fusing the African sound into a modern conglomeration of world music. With the mix of guest appearances and stylistic flourishes, this CD can’t simply be categorized flushed with its Western Jazz elements, Indian touches and wide expanse African sound landscape, but it’s certain that Gigi’s vocals tie all the elements together and make it shine.
Buy Gold and Wax.