24 June 2009


Tea: Dreams
(Teajuana Music)

Four years ago, I had mixed reactions to the debut album by the group Tea, made up of French guitarist Franck Balloffet, California drummer-keyboardist Phil Bunch, and some musical friends. The group's second release has a similar vibe, with lush, rich Afropop tunes more suited for chilling out than for gettin' down.

The songs following are widely varied, from the pop-ballad languor of "Haunty" to the club-beat "Ibiza," to the hint of reggae on the upbeat "Envie." And while
music never really cuts loose, the musicians and vocalists are top-notch. Steve Kgondo, (formerly with Tabu Le Rochereau) sings the opening track "Vibration," which sounds something like Youssou N'Dour meeting a jazz-fusion band. And Brian Auger's B3 work on "Bilobela" is downright tasty.

No song notes or lyrics are included, so one may conclude that the group's emphasis is on the gently upbeat mellow vibe of the music. And that's fine, but as with a pleasant but somewhat bland meal, I'm left wanting to reach for a splash of something hot, something spicy. In the end I find myself wanting to like this album a lot more than I actually like it.

More Tea:
buy/hear CD

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