Not too long ago, I was happily surprised to find at the record store a recently released CD by one of my favorite singers. Indeed, Raymond Cajuste’s latest is a joy to listen too. When I bought without hesitation, I knew I would not be disappointed.
Solidly backed by an excellent cast of musicians, Cajuste is at his best : cool, relaxed, accurate. Of the ten songs on the CD, seven were written by him and that makes him a pretty good composer too. For one thing, he writes beautiful lyrics, whether writing about serious social or political issues, or issues of love. Listen for example to the lyricism of tune No. 1 – Foli Damou.The words flows so naturally and Cajuste has a knack to evoke such romantic images, and the voice to express them too. From there, listen to tune No. 2, Ti Moun yo, a most poignant plea for saving the street children, for taking care of them. It is a desparate and sincere call to the raise the consciousness of the authorities, present and future, local and international, about the plight of these children. This song is probably my favorite on the album, at least one of my favorites, because there is more.
Cajuste also brings nice memories of Bossa Combo with such tunes, played on a Twoubadou beat, like Chère Madame, Racines. In my humble view, Racines is a real tribute to writing skills of Raymond Cajuste. When it was released more than fifteen years, no one wrote this kind of lyrics and it is no wonder that it remains one of the top Bossa Combo hits of all times.
What about the title tune on the CD, Exodus ? Folks, the lyrics of this song are powerful enough to bring tears to your eyes, as you listen to the plight of so many of our brothers and sisters who had to flee Haiti, against all odds, living everything behind, worrying about how their loved ones would survive, and landing at the inferno of Guantanamo. It is a powerful testimony.
Cajuste ends the CD on a rather high note, with a song designed to lift the spirits. Played on a yanvalou beat, Men Mwen is an exhortation to continue to fight, as long as your health allows. Those lyrics are really uplifting and the rythm is designed to convey those feelings.
Cajuste is supported throughout the CD by some of my favorite guitarists. Listen in the firts tune how Makarios Césaire and Jimmy Jean-Félix follow Cajuste through the song. Césaire has a way of producing on his guitar those soft, languishing love notes that add tremendous color to the music and complete Cajuste’s voice. Jimmy Jean-Felix guitar on tune No. 2 Ti Moun yo, also create that atmosphère, most aptly so to give the lyrics their full force .
So if you have not gotten your copy yet, this is a must, and I am not exaggerating. This is a nice album which should be in your collection of Haitian singers.
For Windows on Haiti
Serge Bellegarde – October 2003