Razia Said

Zebu Nation

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Born in Madagascar but raised in several countries and now living in New York, Razia Said returned to her homeland to record this very ecologically aware album. She was inspired by the decimation of Madagascar, and these songs are her response. It's a decidedly modern approach to Malagasy music, ignoring most of the traditional stringed instruments in favor of guitar (although the legendary RĂ©gis Gizavo does contribute some wonderful accordion and singing) for a groove that's more Western 4/4 than Malagasy 6/8. Razia does have a beguiling voice, which she uses throughout to great effect, and the playing is impeccable. Some of the material, like the lullaby "Lalike" and "Tsy Tara," is quite elegiacally lovely, while "Slash and Burn" does have some fire in its musical belly. Other than those, there's a disarming smoothness about the disc. Though pleasant, it perhaps undermines the album's intent. But Razia definitely has something about her.

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