Andy Palacio & The Garifuna Collective: Watina

Andy Palacio & The Garifuna Collective - WatinaFor the past decade, producer Ivan Duran from Stonetree Records of Belize has gathered Garifuna artists to create exciting, impeccably produced new music that brims with the same timeless freshness as the finest roots reggae. In the process, Belize’s biggest star, Andy Palacio, abandoned the upbeat but mindless local punta dance music for a mellow yet funky, incantatory sound based on traditional rhythms.

Though barely in his forties, Palacio possesses one of those voices that seems to exude ancestral wisdom; combined with the sumptuous vocal harmonies of his backing cast, it makes for gems like the quasi-religious invocation “Baba” or the bluesy “Weyu Larigi Weyu.” With rare exceptions, lyrics are in the threatened Garifuna language, and the album features local artists young and old, including 75-year-old Paul Nayor, whose duet with Palacio on “Ayo Da” has Buena-Vista-ish emotion and elegance.

This international release was recorded in a cabin on the beach, and the results reflect the simple, relaxed beauty of the setting as much as they invite us into a culture.

Siddhartha Mitter
Andy Palacio (Cumbancha)