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Paula Maya
Yellow House Records

Whether she classifies as a World Music artist or not, Paula Maya has been around. Born in Rio de Janeiro Brazil (where she studied Jazz and Bossa Nova with legendary pianist Luiz Eca), and now residing in Seattle, Washington, Maya's music calls to mind everyone from Kate Bush to Peterl Gabriel, and from Jerry Lee Lewis to Tori Amos. But perhaps no comparison is more apt than to that of Bjork -- no more does the Icelandic singer stand along atop the mountain of quirky lyrics and distinctive vocal stylings. Paula Maya gives her a run for her krona.

Maya's semi-eponymous "Paula" is a mixture of jazz, electronic, Latin, rock, blues, funk and ska, with more variety packed into some songs (such as Track 2, "Insanity") than one is likely to find during the entirety of an Ozomatli concert. Album opener "Full Moon" is a slow, sexy lounge act, taking its time like a good lover, whereas closer "Shaking" is something altogether different, filled with Eastern instrumentation, sweeping soundscapes and enchanting, lilting vocals. In between you'll find a little bit of everything else, including ska ("Sound is Light," "The Old Man"), funk ("In the Present") and the electronica-inspired "High On You," which evokes Lola Rennt with its steady, driving, incessant pulse, Paula's lyrics dancing atop like a Sugar Plum Fairy tripping on life.

Favorite Track: "Shaking"

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Michael Fiegel is a freelance writer and graphic designer. His diverse background includes journalism, radio copywriting, technical writing, game design and music reviewing. He is best known as the creator of the Internet cult sensation, Ninja Burger. He can be reached at or at his website,

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