Rokia Traore: Tchamantche (Lateral Note/Southbound)

 |   |  1 min read

Rokia Traore: Aimer
Rokia Traore: Tchamantche (Lateral Note/Southbound)

You don't have to have spent too long with world music to come across the deep well of talent out of Mali, much of which has appeared at Elsewhere: the late Ali Farka Toure and his son Vieux, Toumani Diabate, Salif Keita, the very popular Amadou and Miriam and many more.

And if you didn't already know this remarkable singer you can add her to that long list.

Born in Mali, educated in Europe and at home on concert stages everywhere, she is perhaps the artist from Mali who is extended the range of traditional music the furtherest as she combines it with an experimental approach to songwriting. She's toured a Billie Holiday show in the States and written in what might loosely be called the jazz and classical idioms, and at times on this highly impressive new album you can hear elements that remind of Joan Armatrading as much as the sound of her homeland.

And it closes with her gentle treatment of the Gershwin's The Man I Love, associated with Holiday.

This is a remarkably understated and often quiet album -- you might find yourself constantly turning it up to hear the subtlety -- and that deceptively powerful voice can here sound remarkably fragile as she pours it gently across backings from gentle electric and acoustic guitars, harp, traditional ngoni (a simple stringed with a hard edge to its sound) and the lightest of percussion touches.

It is an utterly hypnotic approach and the lovely repeated figures from guitar and ngoni provide solid but never intrusive settings for her drifting, uncoiling vocals. The mesmersing quality of Traore's voice has endeared her to an international audience over a series of impressive albums and this one doesn't break step, even though it moves her into another area again.

Intimate and melodic, serious in its lyrical concerns (the lyrics are translated but the emotions come through in her voice) and quietly impressive. If you missed her previous albums this is an excellent place to sign up. 

Share It

Your Comments

post a comment

More from this section   World Music articles index

1 Giant Leap: What About Me? (Border)

1 Giant Leap: What About Me? (Border)

Last year Elsewhere presented a lengthy interview with Duncan Bridgman who is half of this multi-media world music project with Jamie Catto. In that free-ranging conversation he outlined the... > Read more

Badakhshan Ensemble: Song and Dance from the Pamir Mountains (Smithsonian/Elite)

Badakhshan Ensemble: Song and Dance from the Pamir Mountains (Smithsonian/Elite)

Okay, this is not for everybody ("Who is that?" said my wife, and not in a favourably curious way) but the previous collection in this Music of Central Asia series (see tag) was an... > Read more

Elsewhere at Elsewhere

LIFESTYLES OF THE RICH AND FABULOUS: Money for nothing and the chicks for free

LIFESTYLES OF THE RICH AND FABULOUS: Money for nothing and the chicks for free

"Let me tell you about the very rich. They are different from you and me. They possess and enjoy early, and it does something to them, makes them soft where we are hard, and cynical where we... > Read more

Public Enemy: It Takes A Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back (1988)

Public Enemy: It Takes A Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back (1988)

By the late Eighties when this announced itself like a live album with stadium sound from the audience and a siren wail, hip-hop had sprung past the sampling innocence and good times of its early... > Read more