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Review: Gecko Turner, Gone Down South

Here’s one from your humble editor. Things are getting a little chillier on the island these days, and the coconuts aren’t falling quite as often, but here comes an AfroBeatnik to provide some new world music grooves. Funky guitar, lyrics in two languages, and some smokey-raspy singing sure go down smooth.

Gecko Turner's newest album contains gems in multiple genres from throughout the Western Hemisphere and Africa. (Click to visit the artist's website.)

Gecko Turner
Gone Down South
[Lovemonk (2010)]

Gecko Turner’s newest album is “world music” in the literal sense of the phrase. While the term usually applies to off-the-beaten-track genres of music (like “Juju” or “flamenco”), Turner starts in his native Spain and travels musically through Africa, down to South America, up through the Caribbean, and finally to the United States. It’s a roundabout jouney just to have Gone Down South.

The disc opens with “Truly,” the best track here and an infectious bit of sweet, swinging soul that you’ll be singing along with by the second chorus. It’s easy to hear right from the start why Turner gets comparisons to Bob Dylan and Ray Charles, and this track, the most “American” one on the album, owes much to those artists. The track also features a homemade mini rhumba-box played by percussionist Javi Mojave.

From there the disc just gets more diverse. “Cuanta Suerte” is an idiosyncratic take on Cuban jazz, and the belly-deep bellow of the title in the chorus is one of the album’s simpler and more memorable pleasures.

Despite these high points, the album has some filler. Some tracks near the end—like “The Love Monk,” which would go down fine in a club—add too little to the project and seem to have been included just so Turner could notch another genre on his gun. Though most of the musicianship is first-class, the trumpet playing on the disc is messy, which is alternately endearing (as on “Truly”) and distracting (as on “So Sweet”).

Fortunately, the album ends well, with the title track, a soft blues number with just Turner and his piano player, Javier Massó “Caramelo.”

With occasional application of the “skip” button on the CD player, this is a disc worth reaching for whenever you need a groove, and it contains a few absolute gems for those of us who covet diverse albums for mix tapes.

—Jack Hunter

© 2010 DriftwoodMagazine.com, All rights reserved

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