Album Review: Germa Adan – Borderlines & Bloodlines

Borderlines & Bloodlines is the second album release from Haitian folk artist Germa Adan. An album that draws from her roots, as well as a wide range of sonic influences, it’s a collection that’s got her on my radar.

By Graeme Smith

Feature photo by Stephen Kopec

Germa’s latest album came about in a time in her life when she felt adrift. She’d just completed university and intensive classical violin training, but wasn’t sure where to take her sound, with so many options on the table. It was visiting the work of Odetta Holmes that drew her back towards her Haitian heritage and from there she embraced the literature of Frantz Casseus, Manno Charlemagne and Toto Bissainthe, among others. It’s upon this tapestry of literature and folk tale that Borderlines & Bloodlines is woven.

The album opens with Je Yo II Their Eyes. It’s a lively yet thoughtful opening, with looping, hypnotic rhythms and a touch of introspection. Soulful vocals come in, sung in harmony, giving a strong sense of unity. It’s a powerful and inviting start. I immediately knew I was in for something special.

Singing Queen slows things down with an atmospheric and delicate moment before title track Borderlines & Bloodlines gives us a slow-burning epic including elements of jazz melded with modern pop. Germa’s vocals are particularly compelling as they deliver poetic lyrics. It’s a highlight.

Umbrella Man ups the tempo with a percussive dance arrangement. The Journey song features Kadialy Kouyate on Senegalese kora and is beautifully dreamy. Turn Turn Turn is an ethereal, choral wonder before Give me a little light keeps things gentle with plucked strings and cosmic ambiance. It’s another highlight.

Wildflower opens the final leg of the album with some folky, earthy contrast. The Woman of Dan keeps things light and acoustic and is rich with natural imagery and an empowering message. Mountain song is cathartically upbeat. Where the wild things are features Xhosa Cole on flute and unfolds lushly over seven and a half minutes. A bonus track, Souvni, then rounds things off with a rich combination of sounds and textures. It nicely ties together all we’ve heard before and is a final highlight.

Borderlines & Bloodlines was co-produced with Duncan Thornley and features the talents of Kadialy Kouyate and Xhosa Cole. The album is out tomorrow, 27 October, in all the usual places.