Kimi Djabate

Karam

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Although largely unknown, this is actually Kimi Djabaté's second solo album. A member of the griot caste, he grew up with music in Guinea-Bissau, and has played the balafon since he was three years old. He's a master of his instrument, which remains a constant, bubbling presence on this disc, supported by a number of other instruments (mostly acoustic, but also some keyboard and electric guitar, thankfully sparingly and tastefully used). Djabaté's compositions -- which comprise everything here -- are softly hypnotic, and filled with typically West African elements, such as the call and response vocals between lead and backup singers. The songs themselves are delicious creations, lulling, melodic, and even catchy to Western ears, especially "Karam," with its memorable chorus, and "Banhané." Although he now lives in Lisbon, Djabaté's roots are obviously deep, and his feelings for Africa are expressed in his lyrics. Although not startling or revolutionary, Karam is a lovely addition to the canon of African music, and the wider introduction of an excellent talent.

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