Putumayo Presents: Native America
Putumayo World Music/Ode
Here’s a collection of contemporary Native American music (from the U.S. and Canada), haunting flute music – sure. But beyond that (and around that) there are songs – actual songs. Many of the artists here are singer/songwriters (of Native American descent) using aspects of their heritage to embellish gentle folk songs. There are some lovely performances across the CD from the pure voices of Brianna Lea Pruett (Shine For You) and Jessica Martinez Maxey (All My Blessings) but it’s the haunting instrumentation and arrangements around the voices that really sells the story, tells the tale – such as Miam Maikan’s opening Florent Vollant or the eerie flute and snake-charming percussion of R. Carlos Nakai and Will Clipman’s First Morning.
Andrew Vasquez’s Flying Free feels like documentary soundtrack music – in all the right ways – and there’s a sweet pop song by Claude McKenzie (Assikuman-Tetapuakan) that just happens to be sitting inside a Native American tongue.
Bill Miller’s Wind Spirit is reminiscent of the textures Robbie Robertson evoked when he set about to reconciling his heritage across a collection of musical soundscapes and Jerry Alfred and The Medicine Beat makes explicit the history via a spoken word introduction for Nendaa – Go Back, a calling to go back to your roots.
It’s a calm, very laid back-sounding album – a pleasure to sit down with, to enjoy as background music (instrumentally) or to study (lyrics, stories) to offer a sense of the history of another culture.