LURA with MARACATU NUNCA ANTES as part of CARNAVAL 2006! at Lula Lounge (1585 Dundas West), Friday (February 17), 8 pm. $20-$25. 416-588-0307.
Sure, the sugary rush of Eminem rapping over a Paul McCartney break or Xtina crooning over the Strokes might cause a smirk of appreciation - but it'll probably fade before the song does.
Lura, on the other hand, whose music is something of a cultural mash-up, takes a little while to set in and a lot longer to wear off.
The singer, who originates from the Cape Verde archipelago (best word ever) off the west coast of Africa, is currently in the midst of her first major North American tour. Over the phone from her hotel room in Austin, Lura chuckles smokily over the disorienting effect her international sound has had on her unwitting new audiences.
"In Cape Verde we have European and African influences. So when you don't know my music, maybe you think it's Latin, or maybe Brazilian, or maybe African. It's a funny mix," laughs the now-Lisbon-based singer.
For example, just one of the genres she summons is the morna, which is itself a mysterious classical-instrument-supported Cape Verdean blend of tango, Brazil's modinha and Portugal's fado (most recently revitalized by nu-fadista Maritza). She also rocks batukus and funanas styles from Cape Verde's Santiago Island while singing in Portuguese about issues germane to Cape Verdeans, like the mail, immigration and romance.
On her debut album, Di Korpu Ku Alma (Of Body And Soul), all the intercontinental influences merge to create a sound as familiar as it is indistinct - in addition to being sexy, vigorous and often highly emotive. So despite its origins being a brow-scratcher for stateside audiences, the tour's getting strong reactions and good press.
"It's going very nice everybody likes the shows. Good criticas, you understand?"
Which, to the young singer from a young republic (Cape Verde only gained its independence from Portugal in 1975) is a nice surprise. From the sound of it, she didn't think too much of her chances in the South, where she thinks competition has given rise to high musical standards.
"Before I went to the United States, I was a little afraid because we have an image of the people there as very exigent because the country has very good players, very good singers, and I think I am just one more voice singing in the United States, and maybe not very good!"
Her lack of self-confidence was unwarranted. She's already met a solid response in North America and her show at last September's Small World Music Festival was so hype, they're hauling her back to Lula Lounge tomorrow (Friday) night.
They also love her in Boston.
"I was here in Boston three times before these two tours. It's like Cape Verde - everybody talks Creole, and there are Portuguese people, too."
Apparently, she connected with Cape Verdeans when she played at Berkeley University in California as well.
Talking to her, you get the sense that her travels will offer lots of material for future songs.
"For example, the name "Colorado' is a beautiful name for us. For us it sounds like colorido - so we imagine that place as having a lot of colours. I'm in Texas. In Portugal and everywhere, we always talk about Texas because we get shoes from Texas, so there's a lot of curiosity about it. Now I'm here, and it's nice."