Artist: Amadou and Mariam
Format: Digital (Spotify)
What’s most impressive about “Folila,” the sixth studio effort from Amadou and Mariam, a blind singing duo from Mali, is their ability to merge their popular African music with Western influences without compromising.
The music retains a Malian spirit despite guest appearances from the likes of Santigold, Theophilus London, French singer Bertrand Cantat and TV on the Radio’s Tunde Adebimpe.
These artists enhance and complement the arrangements, despite most of the songs being co-written with their collaborators.
Cantat serves as the lead vocalist on “Oh Amadou,” rich sandpaper growl in his voice meeting his turns on the harmonica to create an African blues song.
Adebimpe’s voice feels familiar and comfortable inside “Wily Kataso,” which he and fellow TVOTR member Kyp Malone penned along with Mariam.
While “Folila” – Bambara for “music” – is a respectable effort, it falls short of being essential. For many listeners, it will be a novelty, not a mainstay.
Our Music Year is Daily Republic popular culture writer Nick DeCicco’s yearlong online review in 2012 of albums he had previously not listened to. The reviews will appear in print on their corresponding days during 2013. Reach him at 427-6966 or [email protected] Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/ndeciccodr.