Lokua Kanza


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The sixth album for African-born Lokua Kanza -- by now a known commodity -- is a pure, sweet, laid-back effort, introspective and serene as can be. With a small instrumental complement and an at-times large vocal chorus, Kanza plays light and luscious acoustic guitar in context with these songs about his experiences growing up in Zaire, living in the Ivory Coast or Paris, and drinking of the waters of wisdom, love, hope, and life. It's a collection of introspective originals far from Afro-beat power, but it's also not a program of ballads. There is one track, "Nakozonga," that has the larger vocal complement and instrumental component, even a loop-type melody, while Kanza employs the mbira in the sweet, rich opener "Elanga Ya Muinda" and the waltz "Yalo." Guests include the children of the leader, pianist Bertrand Richard, jazz guitarist Sylvain Luc in the duet "Loyenge" with repeat wordless vocals and a shout chorus, and the ultimately luminous title selection in tandem with the harmonica player William Galison. Otherwise the shaded blue soul of Kanza comes through clearly, with no masking agents or filters, a beautiful concept that anyone can relate to even if the lyrics are not understandable. Not a magnum opus, but a pretty collection, good for anytime in the day, when spirits need a lift.

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