We've been huge fans of Leyla McCalla and her unique perspective on traditional folk music for a while now. Her latest single moves into a direction that we aren't familiar with her: "You Don't Know Me" is almost a rock song in McCalla's hands. It features electric guitars and crashing drums and an impossibly infectious groove. This is by far McCalla's most mainstream sounding single, and it's great to hear an artist expand on their sound in this way. McCalla puts such heartfelt emotion into the song, which is a cover of Caetano Veloso's Tropicalismo original, it's impossible to not be moved by it.
In a Facebook post, Leyla McCalla says of her new single:
"'You Don't Know Me' was written by Caetano Veloso who is one of the architects of the Tropicalismo movement and one of my all time favorite creative heros. The song comes from Veloso's album, Transa, an album of stories that reflect his experience as an immigrant artist in exile from Brazil in the early 70s. The words of the song reflected so much the emotionality of the exile experience that it reminded me of Radio Haiti's journalists, many of whom were exiled in the United States intermittently throughout the 80s and 90s. When I recorded the song, there was a lot of rhetoric in the US media about the wall between the United States and Mexico and the line "there's nothing you can show me from behind the wall" resonated deeply in my mind. As we see the tragedy of war unfolding in the Ukraine, we are reminded that political persecution and the fight for free sovereign nations is still very much a part of our world. Haiti doesn't seem so far from Ukraine afterall."