Lokua Kanza

Toyebi Té

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Not a million miles from Geoffrey Oryema, Lokua Kanza, from the Democratic Republic of Congo, has a lilting, pan-African style. He might not show the roots of his homeland, but this is ineffably an African record -- largely acoustic, melodic, and carried by Kanza's gentle voice. The record works best, perhaps surprisingly, when he doesn't sing in English -- in large part because the English lyrics are execrable ("Good Bye" being a prime example). He does veer into smooth jazz/R&B territory at times, which really doesn't serve him well; there's more to him than that, and the glibness has very little of the depth he manages elsewhere. He's really at his best when the sound is stripped-down, really allowing him to shine because his mellifluous voice is unmistakably the star of the show. Kanza has a future, that's beyond doubt. On the basis of this record, he'll never be a major name, but still one worth hearing across the years.

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