African Odysseus

Geoffrey Oryema

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African Odysseus Review

by Adam Greenberg

A catchy compilation of songs from Ugandan exile Geoffrey Oryema, the son of a police chief targeted by Idi Amin's troops. This album is culled from his previous four, with new versions of two hits added in and one altogether new song tossed in for good measure. The album starts out with a bit of Italian in "Sardinia Memories," then promptly moves into thoroughly danceable grooves in "Rwot Obwola Wan" and "Gari Moshi," which has a tangible amount of Afro-beat thrown into the mix. As the album moves on, slightly more traditional sounds are encountered, but slowly morph themselves over toward dance tracks again, as the balofons of "Piri Wango Iya" eventually merge into the slick urban beats and synths of "Spirits of My Father," a song dedicated rather clearly to Oryema's departed father. From that point, it quietly slows back down for a full six songs of lighter stuff, only to kick itself back up with the bluesy "Ye Ye Ye." The album closes on a trio of moderate songs, finishing with a vocal number by the group Idir, featuring Oryema's vocals on top of the mix. Overall, it's quite a good album, spanning a number of dimensions of contemporary African pop within the space of an hour. Afro-beat, blues, vocal pop, and traditional instrumental work are all covered before the album is through, and all covered in worthy fashion no less. Pick it up for a nice overview of contemporary pop, all done by one worthwhile artist.

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