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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Byrne's odes to Imelda odd, yet appealing

Associated Press

Hawaii news photo - The Honolulu Advertiser

Todomundo/Nonesuch Records

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David Byrne; Todomundo/Nonesuch Records

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The verdict is still out on whether David Byrne's entire career has been brilliant or crazy. And Byrne's latest concept album, the two-disc "Here Lies Love," a tribute to the life of former Filipino first lady (and shoe lover) Imelda Marcos, is not making it easier to decide.

Regardless, "Here Lies Love" is a magnificent sonic treat. A project five years in the making, the former Talking Heads frontman joins with DJ Fatboy Slim and a roster of 22 guest vocalists such as Cyndi Lauper, Martha Wainwright, Santigold and Sharon Jones to deliver an epic, thrilling tale brimming with hair-raising harmonies, sumptuous beats and unexpected duets.

Each track seems catered to and inspired by each guest artist and demands a strong performance in return. Sharon Jones' "Dancing Together" is perfectly suited to her lady James Brown vocals, replete with a horn section and a synthesized bass line worthy of any Dap-King. 'Ukulele strings and funky island rhythms complement Sia's light and cheery notes on "Never So Big" and Natalie Merchant's haunting, baleful voice gives proper urgency to the politically themed "Order 1081."

You don't need to know the tale of this fallen shoe maven to love the tracks she inspired.

Check this out: "Why Don't You Love Me?" an astoundingly strange duet between Lauper and Tori Amos proves two equally quirky and unconventional tastes can go great together. One voice scratchy, one voice imperious, the combination is complete magic.