Title - 'Greece Musical Odyssey' (Putumayo)
Artist - Various
Because it focuses on some of the country's most commercially successful artists of the last two decades, this smoother-than-usual Putumayo sampler of contemporary Greek music will disappoint listeners in search of the kind of joyous party ambiance you may find in a touristy Athens taverna. The mellifluous strains of the traditional bouzouki are a constant presence, but the twelve songs here boast the sophisticated arrangements and lilting melodies of European pop at its cosmopolitan best. A somber ballad with touches of accordion, veteran singer/songwriter George Dalaras' "Sou Axize Mia Kaliteri Agalia" dazzles you with an opening line of exquisite irony ("I don't care/Who you're listening to this song with tonight") while the raspy vocals of Glykeria turn "Ta Ziliarika Sou Matia" into a visceral anthem of romantic obsession. Songs by lesser known artists such as Kostas Makedonas and Theodosia Stiga are equally compelling.
Reviewed by Russell A. Trunk