D'Gary / D'Gary & Jihe


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The fine Madagascaran guitarist, brought to the ears of the Western world by Henry Kaiser and David Lindley by their excellent compilation A World Out of Time, here leads his own working band, Jihe, in an enjoyable collection of work, somewhat more pop-oriented than heard from him previously. D'Gary (whose given name is Ernest Randrianasolo) has a captivating fleetness and grace in his guitar playing and, consistent with much popular song from Madagascar, that buoyancy is in effect on most of the pieces here. The rhythms are quick, never leaden or bombastic and the backing vocals also serve a rhythmic function to keep things skipping forward. D'Gary's voice is engagingly rough and even if the listener is entirely ignorant of the language, it's unique conflation of elements of Indian and Arabic as well as mainland Africa makes for an unusual and fascinating succession of sounds. While the overall upbeat nature of the album makes for a fun listen, one sometimes wishes for a bit more depth and seriousness as provided, for example, by the great singer Dama Mahaleo in his collaboration with D'Gary, The Long Way Home. Still, admirers of African pop and roots music will find much to enjoy here.

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