Lucibela: Laço Umbilical

July 9, 2018

Lift and Gravity

Listening Post 158. Feather light arrangements carry Lucibela and her low, soft-power voice like a princess in an open litter, high enough off the ground so her countrymen can see how effortlessly she floats, near enough to hear her singing their story. Laço Umbilical (Umbilical Cord), her first album, is a masterpiece in Cape Verdean Creole, combining melancholy mornas and brisk coladeiras with Brazilian influences; mixing love songs to a beautiful archipelago and ballads about a woman’s life and struggle. The album features arrangements by Toy Vieira, who also worked with Cesária Evora, and 13 tracks written by the island nation’s leading composers. Lucibela breathes pure vitality into her songs: She is a pulsating force in Mi E Dode Na Bô Cabo Verde (I’m Crazy About You Cape Verde), extolling the islands’ vistas, sounds and people (video 1). In the dreamy Arku da Bedja (Rainbow) she hears morning thunder as a farmer’s harbinger of hope (video 2). Exile is a constant theme in a country with more citizens living abroad than at home; in Sodadi Casa (Homesick), Lucibela—currently living in Lisbon—embodies the pull of gravity (video 3). Even at a lively pace, her love songs are mostly cautionary tales: Mal Amadu (Bitter Love), about resisting a deceptive suitor’s charms (video 4); Violeiro (Guitarist), a bossa nova prayer for a fisherman lost at sea; and the swaggering Profilaxia (Prevention), warning a bon vivant about the perils of unprotected sex. Local commentators often wonder who will wear the mantle of Evora, the Barefoot Diva who put Cape Verde on the world’s music map and died in 2011. But the incomparable diva lives on in her music and in the generation of world-class artists she inspired. Lucibela may float just above the ground, but she is also a dazzling star in a new constellation. (Lusafrica) 


Mi E Dode Na Bô Cabo Verde/I’m Crazy About You, Cape Verde
I never saw such a place/A paradise like a painting
Our blue sea like a bridge/Crossed by fishermen and sailors
Brave, strong and full of fight 

If the rain falls, the corn grows/The scenery is wonderful
Here in this tropical land/Of laborers and farm workers/Students and intellectuals 

I’m crazy about you, Cabo Verde/And about you, too, my love
Leave me with my sun and arid mountains/My Creole and my blue sea

Land of morna and coladeira/Batuque, sanjon and funana
Charming Creoles full of affection/Who enchant me with their beauty

Europe is lovely and America a world/But paradise is here


Arku da Bedja/Rainbow
He woke up/At dawn to hear thunder
A smiling face: the rain has come/And with it, hope for my land

José went out/With his spade slung around his neck
We’re getting the seed ready/It’s time to sow

Young people, let’s go/And dig furrows
This time, we’ll plant pumpkin/To color our catchupa dishes

The rainbow catches the water/Don’t point at it


Sodadi Casa/Homesick
Homesickness is another animal/One that doesn’t get along with its master
It’s loyal, pampered and feline/A resident and sometimes a guard
A prowler, a cunning predator/Even when it leaves 

Homesickness is another animal/That can’t be cajoled with the advice
Of a mother, judge or priest
It’s deaf, dumb, blind and ill-bred/Sleepy and anxious


Mal Amadu/Bitter Love
Brow furrowed, ill-tempered/He walks quickly
Looking aslant/With a tense expression

He won’t leave me alone/He thinks only of confusing me
I try to avoid him/But he comes straight back

He says he’s my friend/That he can turn me into somebody
If I live with him
If not, I’ll be nothing

Oh, bitter love/Get out of my life
I want no greed, brother/Stay away from me
Oh, bitter love/Get out of my life
I am a child of God, too/And good fortune will come my way one day



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