Habib Koité & Bamada, Afriki
After six years of relentless touring, Malian guitarist Habib Koité's latest recording again draws upon his native roots. Opener "Namania," an ode to a dark-skinned girl who triggers Koité's memories of times gone by, perfectly syncs up the call-and-response vocals with Koité's fluent guitar. "Barra" is a percussion-rich tune with standout violin solos by the late Hassey Saré (Ali Farka Touré, Alef Bocoum). "Nta Dima" reflects on the Malian tradition of arranged marriages, with lyrics about a father refusing to give his daughter to a man unworthy of her — not a night watchman, nor anyone who doesn't know how to farm the land. Another strong moment is "Massake," with repeated loops that serve as a backdrop for Koité's amazing chops. Unlike Touré or Amadou & Mariam, Koité does not use electric guitars, relying instead on his steel-stringed acoustic, which he plays without many effects. Koité's sound on Afriki is as organic it gets these days, making the album a journey of discovery that will please weathered fans and newcomers alike.
Get the Music Newsletter
Keep your thumb on the local music scene each week with music news, trends, artist interviews and concert listings. We'll also send you special ticket offers and music deals.