Zap Mama


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Zap Mama has always effortlessly created a unique bridge between African music and R&B, and they've done it again on their new album, although the very slick production cuts down on the rawer elements that were such a joy on their earlier work. Although an African heart beats under it all, much of the time it's well-hidden under layers of vocals and arrangements. It starts off hopefully enough with "1000 Ways," a gorgeous piece of work before going into "Hey Brotha." But the title cut is a bit of a disappointment, perhaps a bit too airy for the lyrical matter. And by the time you reach "Princess Kesia," with its almost choral vocals, you have to wonder if Zap Mama, which is really Marie Daulne these days, really know where they're going. "Toma Taboo," which drafts in Belgian singer Arno, might be based on an African song, but it appears to have drifted far from home in this incarnation. There are plenty of musical guests, but if anything that works against any cohesive quality on the disc; the tracks stand individually, rather than as a whole. Musically, it's fine, an easy listen, but it's impossible to shake the feeling that there's something lacking.

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