Picks and Pans Review: Akua Tuta

updated 11/28/1994 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 11/28/1994 AT 01:00 AM EST

Kashtin

Florent Vollant and Claude McKenzie, members of Northern Quebec's tiny Innu tribe, sing in their native tongue, spoken by fewer than 12,000 people. As Kashtin (Innu for tornado), Vollant and McKenzie stand at the forefront of the burgeoning Native American pop-music movement, and Akua Tuta, their third album, contains some of the most vibrant, accessible pop you'll hear this year. They write buoyant melodies and sing with fire, and the band they've assembled sounds like a rootsier Dire Straits. Kashtin's words won't mean much to listeners, but the strange-sounding syllables actually add a beguiling element. The powerful title song (which means Take Care) is a highlight of songwriter Robbie Robertson's new Music for the Native Americans (Capitol). Akua Tuta is no anthropology field trip; it's muscular mid-'90s folk-rock. You'll find yourself singing along—in Innu. (TriStar Music)

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