Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Consumer Guide Album

Ricardo Lemvo and Makina Loca: Isabela [Mopiato Music, 2007]
The Angola-born, L.A.-based salsero-by-default has always been a trifle polite, but on this careful tour de force, he makes politesse an active virtue. In five different non-English languages he invites cousin after cousin into the extended family--from boogaloo to rumba, bolero to son--and defines the groove they share with his own contained dynamics. Far from jarring against each other, the styles barely even seem to segue, shifting like the themes and moods on a well-sung album of quality love songs. Two exceedingly well-spoken female singers, one of them usually a bore, chip in on duets. They groove too. A-