Moonlight Benjamin – Siltane


Title: Siltane
Artist: Moonlight Benjamin
Label: Ma Case
Formats: CD, Digital
Release date: November 30, 2018


For the past twelve years, Moonlight Benjamin has been successfully carving out a space for herself within the music world as the priestess of voodoo blues rock and roll. Her fourth album, Siltane, has only secured her claim to this title. The latest project features Benjamin on lead vocals, Matthis Pascaud on bass and guitar, Marck-Richard Mirand on bass, Clude Saturne on percussion, and Bertrand Noël on drums. Together, they create a soundscape that is suggestive of “an Afro-energized Black Keys meets Dr. John.”

Moonlight Benjamin was born in Port au Prince, Haiti in 1971, and was brought to an orphanage after her mother died during childbirth. Reverend Doucet Alvarez said the following upon her arrival: “If she stayed alive, there is certainly a reason. I will call her Moonlight. A light which will light the future—I will adopt her as my daughter.”

Benjamin was introduced to performance early on in her life—she sung gospel music in her Catholic church from the time she was a child. When she was in her late teens, a friend, who also happened to be a singer and guitarist, asked her to perform on his album. This request soon turned into months of touring for the duo—months that resulted in Benjamin’s deepening of love for performance. Upon her return to Port au Price, Benjamin was introduced to Haitian voudou, or voodoo, and found herself inspired both spiritually and musically: “Voodoo rhythms and songs are like the umbilical cord that connect the western part of the island of Haiti to the womb of its people, Africa.”

While some songs are sung in French, Benjamin draws a clear connection to her home by singing most tracks in Haiti’s official language of Creole. She also emphasizes this connection to Haiti by including the traditional song, “Simbi,” and quoting Haitian artists such as poet and playwright Frank Etienne. In fact, the “choice of blues and rock as the driver of Siltane was intended to mirror her view of Haiti, that of a country with incredible power.”

The entirety of this blues rock album is something new and exciting—the listener is sure to be captivated from beginning to end.

Reviewed by Kennedi Johnson