Kali is one of Martinique's premier roots artists, one of only a few musicians who play banjo in the instrument's original Afro-Caribbean style (banjo traveled through the Caribbean islands as a slave instrument before becoming popular in the States). Kali is a true folk musician. He has been instrumental in birthing a style he calls "roots zouk," favoring acoustic, organic tonality for performing the party music of his native island. His fifth commercially available release, Francofaune is a lively, enchanting tapestry, weaving together soca, reggae, and compas alongside Kali's unique look at zouk. His first production for the roots music label Tinder Records, the album is beautifully produced. It's sonically clear yet warm and intimate, full of delicate nuance and subtlety. Though the majority of his social conscience-driven lyrics are in Creole, there are glimpses of English and French as well. Kali's French influence is not only evident in language, but also in the creeping minor tonalities and waltz-time compositions he uses, which are not found in the music of Martinique's neighbors. These darker elements juxtaposed against the sunny African rhythms and harmonies makes for a captivating listen. The world is just now beginning to learn about Martinique's contributions to the world music conversation, and there could not be a better tutor than Kali. Francofaune is a must-own.
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AllMusic Review by Evan C. Gutierrez