Thierry Robin

Kali Gadji

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In the first five minutes of this album, Titi Robin makes two mistakes that just about scuttle the whole project: he lays down a track that's nothing but sound effects -- rain, a horse, a woman's laugh -- and he talks over an otherwise fine flamenco song. He is not singing; he is not rapping; he is talking. Maybe Maurice Chevalier can get away with this sort of thing, but from Titi Robin it is merely pretentious and God-awful. On later tracks the talking approximates rap (admittedly, it even works on "L'Ombre de Dieu"), but between them, sound effects and recitation ruin almost half the disc, so caveat emptor.

Oddly enough, the rest of the album is quite nice. Robin plays his characteristic guitar and oud, but he often relies on the bouzouki, which gives the proceedings a nice, sharp timbre. But the album suffers for lack of a unifying principle. There is some flamenco, some Moroccan influence (including the passionate shouting of Abdelkrim Sami "Diablo" on "Swing Wassalou," a touch of Klezmer, and some very good jazz on "Le Vent (The Wind)." Perhaps the unifying element is Afro-pop music, which several tracks seem to be imitating. The way in which everything is drenched in saxophone lends some credence to this hypothesis, but we might never know.

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