Habib Koité and Bamada

Afriki | Cumbancha
By BANNING EYRE  |  October 15, 2007
3.0 3.0 Stars
After six years, Mali’s pre-eminent singer-songwriter has delivered his fourth album, and it continues the lyrical, acoustic balladry of Ma Ya (1998) and Baro (2001), but with even greater finesse and intimacy. “N’Ba” is a reggae-tinged celebration of motherhood; “N’tesse” is a paean to “the big Malian family,” which rallies in solidarity when there is a marriage, a birth, or a death, and it features one of the sweetest vocal melodies in Koité’s canon. “Namania,” an adaptation of a story from Koité’s own Khasonke folklore, balances a lyrical verse and a trenchant rhythmic chorus that’s spiked with the sharp vocal inflection of young, female, griot singers. Koité bolsters his pan-Malian credentials with forays into Sonrai and Peul music (“Barra”) and, on “Nta Dima,” the obscure and enchanting world of Mianka musicians playing one-note antelope horns in polyrhythmic synchrony with drummers. Two instrumental tracks showcase his fingerstyle guitar technique. That and his velvet voice complement the introspective mood here.
  Topics: CD Reviews , Habib Koite
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