The Capitalist Blues is Leyla McCalla’s way of processing the current political environment, where many of the issues are financial, but they’re rarely simply financial. “It feels like everyone’s in a pressure cooker in this country” she says. The album is Leyla’s third. Those albums and her time as a member of the African-American string band The Carolina Chocolate Drops presented her vision in songs that revealed the realities that people lived, often expressed in metaphors.

 

She explored Haitian Creole identity issues in songs with arrangements that focused on the song. She often sang and accompanied herself on cello, banjo, or guitar. The New York-born McCalla has lived in New Orleans since 2010. Her growing relationship to the city’s musical community led her to consider her relationship to New Orleans on The Capitalist Blues, and for the first time, it led her to record with a band.

 

The album shows a more physical, danceable side to her music. It also puts McCalla’s voice in a number of new contexts as the size and composition of the band behind her varies from track to track. She still sings a number of songs in Haitian Creole, which she thinks of a “language of resistance,” and she further explores the connection between New Orleans and Haiti. Her interest in social justice issues remains, and many of the themes are extensions of ones she examined on A Day for the Hunter, a Day for the Prey.

 

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