Singer, songwriter, model, and actress Lira has been a star in her South African homeland since she released her debut CD eleven years ago, and she subsequently picked up a devoted following in Europe for her sweetly sensitive soul-infused sounds. Since then, she’s made four additional albums, of which Rise Again is the first issued in this country. Currently on a two-week US tour — her first ever — she may well be on the brink of becoming the most important South African vocalist to arrive on these shores since Harry Belafonte brought Miriam Makeba to New York more than a half-century ago.
Lira had a hand in writing all thirteen songs on Rise Again, ten of which she renders mostly in English, two in Zulu, and one in Xhosa. The warmth and jazz-imbued quality of her frequently inspirational odes have led some to liken her to Sade, yet her glowing mezzo tones are stronger and reflect the influence of American singers like Aretha Franklin and Nina Simone. Lira reprises several of her earlier South African hits, including the joyous and quite danceable “Feel Good.” She is most powerful on ballads and shines brightest on “Something Inside So Strong,” which combines the personal and the political with lyrics such as, The higher you build your barriers, the taller I become. The further you take my rights away, the faster I will run. (Shanachie)