Tshala Muana

Pika Pende

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The queen of mutuashi, Tshala Muana, continues her long line of strong releases with Pika Pende. The title track alone is worth the price of admission. It is a sultry extended dance track laced with filigreed guitar work that is entrancing and weaves a simple melody that one never tires of listening or dancing to. The tone of this album is slightly mellower than some of her other releases, but this is not to say that there is no fire here. It's just that the flame is burning deeper and finer. Many of the tracks begin very innocently and then build slowly and subtly to higher energy levels. The album was recorded in her native Kinshasa, and it pays homage to her roots in the land and its musical traditions. Her assemblage of musicians is top shelf, and the background vocals are pure honey. What is very refreshing about this album is that it manages to avoid the onslaught of sameness in much of the prevalent soukous. The guitar is not overpowering, which makes for a more balanced sound and interesting feel to the album. Recommended.

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