Stella Chiweshe

Talking Mbria: Spirits of Liberation

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Fans of Stella Chiwese's hypnotic style won't be disappointed by her new album, since she delivers plenty more of the same throughout. The mix of mbira, or thumb piano, with marimbas, creates a jogging, mesmerizing bed of sound for Chiwese's storytelling Shona vocals, which remain filled with politics. She's a spiritual, visionary woman who seems to rely on her senses to create nothing less than magic. The revelation on the disc, however, is "Chachimurenga (Future Mix)," which ups the pace a little in a kind of Zimbabwe dub, and the sprightly bass work of Sabah Habas Mustapha. The production, by Hijaz Mustapha, brings in plenty of reverb to take Chiwese's song to another dimension and heighten the impact -- at least to Western audiences more familiar with Jamaican music than the raw sounds of southern Africa. While it's the most accessible and the overall sound makes it stand out, don't be fooled -- everything else here is just as powerful.

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