Lean In

Lean In

It says a lot about the close bond between vocalist Gretchen Parlato and guitarist Lionel Loueke that both chose to include Loueke’s “Nonvignon” on their respective albums in 2005. Revisiting that lilting melody on Lean In, they slow it down and add handclaps and Loueke’s distinctive vocal percussion, updating the song with some of the perspective they’ve gained—together and separately—since those early days. Loueke also reprises “Akwê” from his trio milestone Gilfema, and it’s striking how the song pops with Parlato now singing in unison. Both these artists have always struck a balance between complexity and accessibility, and they’re in that elusive zone more than ever on Lean In. Acclaimed drummer Mark Guiliana, Parlato’s husband, augments things rhythmically on a handful of tracks including the amped-up “If I Knew,” joined by sought-after bassist Burniss Travis. Loueke plays beautiful steel-string acoustic (nylon-string has long been a specialty) on “Muse,” “Painful Joy,” and the Baden Powell-associated bossa nova “Astronauta.”

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