An acoustic album from Mali… Another one? Not again! The great West African singer Oumou Sangaré launches 11 songs under the title Acoustic, a reinterpretation of her previous Mogoya. Released in 2017 with a host of top-shelf guests, including the late drummer Tony Allen, it was undoubtedly one of the best African albums of the previous decade. Excluding percussion instruments, the acoustic extension of this recording could have been one folk exercise among many, but that’s not quite the case. Played with virtuosity and fervour by Guimba Kouyaté, the nylon-stringed guitar gives these harmonic proposals a nice flamenco-jazz side flavour, without however distorting the West African foundations of harmonic constructions and melodies often based on pentatonic scales – five notes instead of seven, as is the case in the blues for example. Vincent Taurelle’s discreet keyboards complete the harmonic work, no lack of taste in this programme. What’s more, Brahima “Benogo” Diakité’s kamele ngoni (a string instrument) and the magnificent backing vocals of singers Emma Lamadji and Kandy Guira , remind us that Acoustic is profoundly Malian – yet less traditional than it seems.
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