Rokia Traoré – Beautiful Africa (2013)
Rokia Traoré is a Malian guitarist and singer/songwriter. Beautiful Africa is a beautiful folk-pop album, sung mostly in her native Bamana language, though there is also French (Melancolie; Beautiful Africa).
The album opener, Lalla, gives a good indication of the entire album, a simple but effective beat is joined in quick succession by an acoustic guitar and ngoni (a Malian instrument, a kind of lute), backing vocals and Traoré’s beautiful voice, wonderfully warm full, with an oh-so-slight gravel quality, but mostly smooth. The track, as most of the album, is in a celebratory mood, upbeat and joyous. A track like Ka Moun Ke introduces a pretty sweet bassline to the mix driving the track forward, as also in Melancolie.
In contrast to much of the album, N’teri is a beautiful slow introspective track, with a sombre, slow beat, and subtle ngoni melody, the music taking a backseat to Traoré’s beatifully sorrowful voice. Without knowledge of the language, I couldn’t tell you the context, but it feels like a griot tribute to the recently deceased.
A lovely album, a beautiful voice and a treat to listen to.
Favourite tracks: N’Teri, Kouma, Ka Moun Ke
Spotify link: Rokia Traoré – Beautiful Africa