By Will Hermes
Updated June 06, 2003 at 04:00 AM EDT

Whether it’s Edith Piaf, Cesaria Evora, or Caetano Veloso, pancultural singers transcend language best via the blues, even if they call it saudade or something. On the live Terra Nostra, Greek songbird Savina Yannatou — who cites Leonard Cohen and avant-garde banshee Diamanda Galas as influences — plumbs sorrow from Lebanon, France, Guadeloupe, and elsewhere. This globe-trotting would mean nothing if it weren’t for Yannatou’s deep feel for the songs and her astonishing technique, a mix of folk-cum-classical traditions and free improv. Her unplugged ensemble, Primavera en Salonico, can moan, swing, or stampede (see ”Ballo Sardo,” with vocals halfway between Tuvan throat singing and Jew’s harp). Could do without the spell-breaking applause, but that’s verite for ya.