Rupa & The April Fishes, "Este Mundo"

73 Billboard Rating

Whether it's klezmer, cumbia, ska, reggae or French chanson, there doesn't seem to be a genre that the San Francisco quintet Rupa & the April Fishes can't do. Lead singer Rupa Marya has an ear not only for languages but also for singing in them. (She sings in French, English and Spanish.) Marya gets the right musicality out of each, with authentic results. The songs are often serious in content, tackling the longing of immigrants separated from their loved ones ("Este Mudo," "Por la Frontera"). Other highlights include the lengthy flute-and-tabla intro to "Soy Payaso," which gives way to a rollicking sound that recalls "Fiddler on the Roof" (but in French). The beauty of "Este Mundo" is how the trumpet, accordion and strings can express melancholy and boisterous joy on a hairpin turn.-Ayala Ben-Yehuda