Sally Nyolo


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While her former colleagues in Zap Mama move toward a slicker sound, on her third solo release, Camerounian singer Sally Nyolo continues on her back-to-basics route, this time taking it all the way to the village with the bikutsi rhythms. The most notable things are the ample groove supplied by the guitar, which finds its riff and hangs onto it like a pit bull discovering a mailman's leg, the rich range of percussion, and the layering of voices that can move between the airiness of angels and the roll of thunder. All of that makes for a substantial, and very hypnotic, package. Partly recorded in Cameroon, it has a very rough and rural feel under the multi-track voices from massed backing vocalists, up to ten of them, making for a female choir. While the bikutsi rhythm has been hijacked by men in recent years (such as Les Tetes Brulées), its origins are with the village women, and Nyolo reclaims it here, even if she does help it travel the world on a track like "Harlem." Lyrically, again, it's centered on community and family, grounded in the village. Over the course of her three albums, Nyolo seems to have found her calling, and this mix of the raw and the high-tech, in perfect balance, is her best effort to date.

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