What does it sound like?:
This album sounds like sunshine. It feels as though it was recorded outdoors with everyone dressed in bright colours and gleaming from ear to ear. It is lush with hooks and melody, sparkling singing, dazzling musicianship and lashings of percussion.
Ngoni Ba are a family band from Mali, a country until recently torn apart from civil war. There was a real threat from fundamentalist Islamists, who did gain control part of the country for a time and persecuted Mali musicians simply for being musicians. Now that the extremists are vanquished and a peace treaty signed, it is time to celebrate and dance.
A Ngoni is a four stringed instrument similar to a lute. Mastery of it is passed from generation to generation in the Kouyaté family. At least four of them are in the group. When they lock into a groove, the interaction and intricacy of the playing is stunning. Bassekou’s wife is the main lead singer but they share the role around and any number of them can participate on backing vocals. It seems like the entire extended family are given something to hit. The whole brew is topped off with western rock elements in the form of two guest guitarists, Chris Brokaw and Samba Touré, and Robert Plant’s drummer, Dave Smith.
Reggae used to be the sound of a barbecue summer but this year, Ba Power fits the bill.
What does it all *mean*?
Many of us are feeling low after the election but we are incredibly lucky as a nation. Mali has suffered badly. In the face of such threat, Bassekou and his band have displayed real bravery, collaborating with western culture and singing songs advocating women’s rights and tolerance.
We, in the UK, should count our blessings.
Goes well with…
Speakers in the garden, iced drinks, young people, long days, burnt food and dancing.
Might suit people who like…
Music guaranteed to raise a smile.