Various Artists

Africa Today: Best of Contemporary Zulu Folk Music

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    8
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AllMusic Review by

This disc is folk music in the same sense that Richard Thompson is a folk musician: It has a traditional flavor, but most of the instruments and idioms derive from pop music. There are five groups featured on the album: Isabelo, inspired by the classic group the Soul Brothers; the educated Johnny Dimba; the guitar and concertina duo Ngxalothi no Masevela; the female trio Ubuhle Bezi Ntombi; and the tragic Zamo no Senta, whose two lead singers were murdered in a faction war. They play a variety of instruments -- guitar, squeezeboxes, one-string fiddle, drums, and synthesizers -- and they sing in the traditional falsetto or fortissimo-sans-vibrato Zulu style. Most of the groups have their roots in 1970s South African pop music. The songs are tuneful and buoyant, although most of them are somewhat light. "Ungibuka Kanjani" by Ngxalothi no Masevela has a Cajun feeling with its concertina and dance rhythms. Isabelo's "Izinhlebi" is a message song about the dangers of gossip and sounds a bit like gospel and a bit like Graceland with its electric organ and horns. Definitely a fun collection.

Track Listing

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time
1
3:03
2
5:22
3
3:12
4
3:33
5
3:09
6
3:04
7
5:23
8
3:11
9
3:35
10
3:09
11
3:03
12
3:11
13
3:07
14
3:30
15
3:07
16
3:10
17
3:00
18
3:09
19
3:34
20
3:07
blue highlight denotes track pick