Masterful Ethiopian Songs from Minyeshu

Minyeshu – Daa Dee (ARC Music EUCD2732, 2018)

Music is an extended family. Its genealogy includes percussionists, string and wind instrument players, dancers, singers, choreographers, producers, engineers, composers, lyricists and more. Many of our best records are family reunions of a sort, reuniting connected cousins, as when Marvin Gaye, originally a drummer, put out his important, groundbreaking recordings. Ethiopian singer/dancer/choreographer/producer Minyeshu gives us a wonderful new example of “family reunion” music on her new CD, “Daa Dee.”

World music is reaching out today, understanding and respectful of deep roots associated with unique cultures and traditions, but incorporating mainstream instrumentation and techniques familiar to a globally broad selection of ears. This album is a prime example of this exciting trend. Close your eyes and listen to any of the 13 songs on “Daa Dee” and find yourself transported … to a steamy jungle fireside, a theater, a concert hall or lasting-impact incidents from your own life, depending on your mood during the listening experience … the songs gently point to all those scenarios.

It is evident that Minyeshu is confident, proud and open to sharing her own lasting-impact incidents, narrated beautifully. Fragile, emotional moments are presented to us here by an artist who trusts us to understand, share, protect and celebrate them with her. A mother encourages her baby’s first steps. Loneliness is experienced and explored to the depths of the seemingly endless sinkhole that it is, and then the bottom is found and a rise back up into love and community begins. Homes are lost and missed and new ones are found and decorated here. Distinctively, each of these vignettes, from the bluest to the brightest, brings clear images of dance to mind. At no point is that part of musical cousin Minyeshu’s perspective anywhere but out front in the mix and emphasis.

Another integral part of this masterpiece is the perfect mix. Every instrumentalist and vocalist is part of a team, working together to express the artist’s vision. Jazz horns riff off of resonant drums and ringing, rubber-funky bass. Blended harmony vocals equally evocative of Balkan cities or bleak Scottish highlands encourage cerebral piano phrases. These respectfully yield to brief, tandem punches from string sections and high-register percussion touches to acknowledge an imperfect today while reflecting the lights of a happier tomorrow. And all with dance in the artist’s mind.

There is a lot of music here. “Daa Dee” is a more-than-memorable musical family reunion, hosted by a gifted artist.

Buy Daa Dee

Author: Arthur Shuey

Arthur has been reviewing music for publications since 1976 and began focusing almost exclusively on world music in 2012.

His musical background includes past presidencies of the Cape Fear Musicians Association and Blues Society of the Lower Cape Fear, founding membership in nine other blues societies, service on 17 music festival planning committees, two decades of teaching harmonica to individuals and groups, operating a small recording studio and performing solo and in combos for 30 years.

Arthur has written professionally since 1975, pieces ranging from short fiction to travel articles, humor to poetry, mainly for local and regional entertainment media. His blog,” Shuey’s World,” is featured at www.accesswilmington.com.

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One thought on “Masterful Ethiopian Songs from Minyeshu”

  1. Arthur Shuey is one of the best world music critics. I always learn from his reviews, I always gain more from the music, he always gives an inspired context. Thank you Arthur.

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