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Shake Away (Exclusive)

Shake Away by Lila Downs
Released: Sep 2008
Label: Manhattan Records
Shake Away is an odd album. In many ways, Downs has never sounded better -- her voice veers between throaty soul reminiscent of Patti Smith and piercing Yma Sumac heights. Her embrace of her Mexican heritage has grown less intellectual, and her duets -- with Cafe Tacuba's Ruben Albarran and Chambao's Mari, among others -- spice the album nicely. (And it's great to hear a Lucinda Williams cover in both Spanish and English.) There's a lot to like, but sometimes you grow embarrassed for her clumsily overt lyrics, much as you might admire her championing of the mythical common man.
Sarah Bardeen