Vhunze Moto

Oliver Mtukudzi

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Vhunze Moto Review

by Chris Nickson

Oliver Mtukudzi, one of the most popular artists in the falling-apart country of Zimbabwe, returns with his most cohesive effort to date. Musically, there's a refinement in his style that borrows lightly from jit music (almost the modern folk music of southern Africa), but it's become one strand in a style that also encompasses the mbira, or thumb piano, sound of the area (although not as obviously as his countryman Thomas Mapfumo), as well as a healthy dose of his own songwriting. A strong favorite of Bonnie Raitt, who's recorded some of his material, there's a quiet melodicism to his work that is ineffably African, although the backing singers could be directly out of the South (or a gospel church). However, the last couple of songs are notable for other influences, "Moto Moto" with its soprano sax and "Tapera" with its almost Bruce Hornsby-like piano, ushering in a waltz-like rhythm that's surprisingly lush but counterpointed by spiky South African guitar. This is perhaps Tuku's (as he's called) best album yet, certainly the most textured and richest, as his songwriting moves ahead and the members of his band create arrangements that enhance, but never overwhelm.

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