Salif Keita

Papa

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From the king of African pop vocals comes this album, his debut on Blue Note's Metro Blue sub-label. As one would expect, the vocals are outstanding. The mildly surprising part here is in the instrumentation; Keita seems to have reverted to the slightly slicker production sounds that he had gone away from for a couple of albums. He does make use of a couple of traditional instrumentalists in the outstanding choices of Toumani Diabate on kora and Keletigui Diabate on balafon. These musicians are, however, often overshadowed on this album by the combination of thumping guitars and bass. This is largely traditional music instrumentally, but the lyrics still deal with the age-old topics of love and love lost, the sad state of the modern world, and the pain of family deaths (such as the title track). This music might not be the most adventuresome that Keita has made, but it's still quite listenable, with relatively slick production powering the final product into a nice package that's ready for the relaxation of the average listener. This is light vocal pop music with touches of traditional instruments where necessary to keep just a bit of the traditional sounds in the background. Pick it up as a fan of Keita's sound, but not necessarily as one wishing to delve into the traditional sounds of Mali on their own.

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