I’m not a big fan of the way Putumayo packages international music for a general audience. The label's compilations often contain some real gems, but the thematic schemes, artwork, and titles evoke such a fuzzy, hokey feeling that I frequently shudder when I see a new release. Granted, I’m not part of the target demographic, so my reaction doesn’t matter, but the recently issued Women of the World: Acoustic still irks me. On the one hand, it’s refreshing to see music from Cameroon, Greece, Algeria, France, Colombia, and Croatia, among other locales, all packaged together, but aside from the fact that the artists are all female and the arrangements are mostly acoustic, there’s not much holding these 11 tracks together.
The creator of one of the collection’s best tracks—and a singer I had never heard of previously—is Luca Mundaca, a Chilean-born woman who was raised in Brazil and currently lives in New York. She’s coming to town this week as part of a national tour for the collection that’s taking place in bookstores (Putumayo has long utilized retail sources that aren’t record shops, from cafes to clothing stores). Her contribution “Não Se Apavore” is taken from her album Day by Day (Lumeni), which was recorded in Brazil in 2004 and released in the U.S. the following year. She moved to New York back in 1999 and before long Atlantic Records signed her, where she made an album that was never released—according to her bio, it was canned because the label folded its jazz department. Day by Day delivers a breezy, pop-touched take on classic bossa nova and MPB that puts her in the same general league as singers like Marisa Monte and Adriana Calcanhotto, although Mundaca's arrangements are less sophisticated. She’s playing solo gigs on Wednesday, March 21, at Ten Thousand Villages in Evanston and the next night, March 22, at Transitions.