Catrin Finch/Seckou Keita: Echo (ARC Music/digital outlets)

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Dual Rising
Catrin Finch/Seckou Keita: Echo (ARC Music/digital outlets)

This pairing of Welsh harp player Catrin Finch and the Senegalese master of the 21-string kora Seckou Keita (with a string section) might seem a little to sweet for those who prefer Keita's solo work or other cross-cultural collaborations, but this follows their enormously popular and award-winning Soar of 2019.

And if anyone was lucky enough to be at that last Taranaki Womad before Covid in 2020 they would have seen them in action.

There is a natural musical affinity between the the stringed instruments which are plucked and on pieces like the lament Chaminuka inspired by Keita's friend, the late Chartwell Dutori, who played mbira (thumb piano) this music reaches for the sublime as the strings weep and Keita's voice aches with loss and yearning.

The honeying from the violins and viola on four of the seven pieces will very much be down to taste and Elsewhere certainly prefers the strings-free tautness of the more challenging duet on Dual Rising and the spare emotionalism of Tabadabang.

And the final piece Jula Kuta on the double-necked kora which Keita invented (he's the man who also went back to the original 22-string instrument) is the pay-off on an album which mostly appeases for its former audience but offers sublime challenges in (almost) equal measure.

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You can hear this album at Spotify here. A tip: start with the final track




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