People Of Earth (PoE) | Self-Titled

The multi-lingual, multi-genre People of Earth (PoE) introduce themselves on their self-titled CD

What happens when a multi-lingual ensemble comes together from several countries utilizing the power of timba music – a very intense percussive foundation which has deep musical history in Cuba bridging folk and other urban genres. The answer lies in People of Earth, a bi-lingual (Spanish, Portuguese, and English) band based in New York City who are about to drop their debut CD, which launched back in 2019 with remote connections during the uncertainties of the pandemic. Now as more music fans are gathering in person, PoE are a 13-member collective from seven countries, interacting with their audiences through memorable performances and on educational platforms. In such a short career, P.o.E have raised the beauty of global sounds collaborating with various U.S. symphony orchestras and introducing children’s theater into their musical vision and played at The Kennedy Center in Washington D.C. Their striking arrangements are fueled by various members with previous experience in Cuban timba ensembles.

For PoE’s self-titled debut CD from Truth and Revolution Records, the musical spectrum feeds off their integration of various musical styles bridged with other tropical flavors. The colorful “Chiki” exercises different layers of percussion behind the lead voice, the engaging “Chiki” chant and a ferociously engaging piano solo. Synthesizers add an attractive string section for “La Mejor Mujer,” graced with a glistening electric piano solo and the crisp brass section. A highly expressive Afro-Cuban flavored plena and R&B intertwine on “Piloto,” featuring musicians recorded in Puerto Rico.

PoE’s version of Djavan’s “Eu Te Devoro” shifts directions without losing a melodic step, followed by a quick timbale solo leading into resounding backing voices on the climax. “Mambo” from Leonard Bernstein’s West Side Story strips the symphonic arrangement from the Broadway and movie soundtracks via an arrangement by PoE member Gabriel Globus-Hoenich. Except for the familiar vocal hook, the mambo experience rules – from the lively trumpet solo to the invigorating percussive drumline.

One of the slower moments from PoE debut, “Wolf Mother,” mixes elements of soul, hip-hop and rock with traditional danzón and bolero, topped with a chilling trumpet solo. All three singers switch off on lead roles for the debut single, “Un Ratito,” superbly utilizing an electro powered rumba.

While PoE’s genre twisting mix on their debut generates mostly fascinating moments, tracks such as “Wolf Mother,” “Un Ratito” and “Piloto” demonstrate their exceptional dexterity of musicianship. More kudos for PoE’s spot-on vision of the two cover selections, especially the explosive “Mambo.” Prepare for a highly energetic, educational introspective of timba from the People of Earth. 4.5 stars out of 5.

Peggy Oliver