Boubacar Traoré – The bluesman

I went browsing last week on my favourite world music shop, sternsmusic.com, to see what I might have missed out on since my last visit (children can put months between the things we used to do on a daily basis – happily!). I noticed that I haad missed out on an album that was in fact released two years ago. If you’re a fan of the late Ali Farka Toure, or just love the blues of John Lee Hooker, then come back to the place that Ethnomusicologist Gerhard Kubik cited as the birthplace of Blues.  The video on the right is taken from the Boubacar’s album Mali Denhou. Relaxing 🙂

African Blues Evolved – Tinariwen

imidiwanTinariwen’s latest album, Imidiwan, follows on the success of groups 2007 release “Aman Iman: Water is Life”. I’ve been following the groups success right from their beginnings. The story behind the music is one of bloodshed, rebellion and suffering, for an excellent write-up see Andy Morgan’s biography on their website.

For us, it’s the music that moves us, and probably one of the strongest tracks on the album for the uninitaited will be “Lulla”, a track which begins disguising its true intentions, with a few scant hand claps and some incidental plucks at a guitar, before unleashing a jaw dropping groove to liberate the soul. “Tenhert” is also very special with its head nodding chords and reflective vocal passages, while “Enseqi Ehad Didagh” will go down well with long time Tinariwen fans as will the slow and meditative melodies of “Chegret”.

While African blues traditionalists may still argue that “Amassakoul” is Tinariwen’s best contribution to the genre, it would be a mistake for them or any other music lover to dismiss “Imidiwan” on the grounds that it is a departure from the groups earlier sound. The new album represents a much more polished and refined offering than their previews relsease.

Tinariwen have found their comfort zone and strike a formidable balance between old and new styles, with the result that Imidiwan represents their strongest offering to date.

This is an African Blues album at its most accessible, and has something for everyone.


Sara Tavares – Xinti

xintiBorn in 1978 Sara Tavares grew up in Portugal but is originally of Cape Verdean descent. It was not until 2006 with her album release “Balance”, that I first discovered this versatile and expressive singer. All the songs were written by Tavares herself, and she also played most of the instruments too. It should be no surprise to hear that Tavares was only 16 years old when she won two of Portugal’s most prestigious TV music contests.

Her musical style of Gospel, Funk and Soul bridges the two cultures of Cape Verde and Portugal, while as a young artist, she draws inspiration from a range of contemporary music styles too. Her music can be at times melancholic and reflective, while also being upbeat and energized. It’s this that makes the artist one of the most dynamic that Portgual has produced in recent years.

Three years since ‘Balance’ and Tavares is back with another album “Xinti“, which although needing a few more listens than the instantly accessible “Balance”, represents another fine chapter in this artists career. One of the strongest songs on the album, “Di Alma” brings her spectacular voice and a funky bassline together.

You can purchase the her latest album from Amazon here.