Rokia Traoré - Mouneïssa (2001)
Mp3 | 320 Kbps | World Music, Folk, Blues, Vocalist, Mali | RS
If Rokia Traore singing the title track to Mouneïssa isn't one of the great pleasures of owning a pair of headphones, it certainly comes close. Her pure, angelic voice grabs the Manding material by its soulful lapels while maintaining a thoughtful note of understatement that's a nice antidote to the declamatory attack of many other Malian vocalists. She's arresting but never overpowering as gliding harmonies couple with the chiming plucked-string arrangement. This reissue of Traore's first album from 1997 shows fewer of the Western vocal touches than on 2000's Wanita, along with soft backing instrumentation that complements her voice like soft raindrops on tender seeds. Acoustic energy propels compositions that draw freely from the Malian griot tradition while adding bold but unobtrusive neo-folkie touches. "Sakanto" pairs the ngoni lute with the balafon wooden marimba, using her healing voice to knit the woody textures together. The fifth cut ("Sabali") surprises by ushering in the first palpable drum on the disc plus an electric bass that creates the tension for her bluesy song about getting wisdom. Though this warm and powerful CD displays Traore at full confidence, it only hints at the gifts she has still to give. Bob Tarte
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