Rokia Traoré

Mouneïssa

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The debut album from Rokia Traore, a Malian singer with ties to the nobility of the country, which would in general forbid her from making forays into music. Despite this, she began with this album, a beautiful showpiece of her vocal prowess. Her voice moves from fragility to power within seconds seamlessly. Perhaps more important is the manner in which she attempts to blend traditional sounds with modern techniques. The balafon and ngoni take first positions among the instruments, and at the same time, the occasional modern mixing technique takes the vocals (a couple of tracks of Traore simultaneously) soaring above the rest of the ensemble. The interplay of the balafon and the ngoni in and of itself is a worthwhile thing to hear, with the low notes of one mixing with the high notes of the other wonderfully. Traore's vocals are vaguely stereotypical for Malian songstresses, but are certainly in the top class of the available talent. Pick it up for a nice look at the range of sound available to a singer versed in the modern, the foreign, and the traditional of Malian music.

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