Fatoumata Diawara: Fatou – review

(World Circuit)

"Fatou" Diawara would seem to have everything going for her. Born to Malian parents and now based in Paris, she's young, good-looking and has already enjoyed a successful career as an actress and a musician, working with the great Malian diva Oumou Sangare. It was Sangare who introduced her to World Circuit, a label with a famously limited but distinguished roster, and she prepared for the release of this debut album with a series of shows, both as a soloist and with a band. On stage she showed confidence, charm, and a cool, clear voice – but at times seemed a little derivative, playing acoustic guitar like the early Rokia Traoré and with inevitable echoes of Sangare in her songs. The album is a more varied affair, with her solo work matched against subtle backing from the likes of Tony Allen on drums, Toumani Diabaté on kora, and even John Paul Jones on bass. The mood is often light and laidback, but she demonstrates her soulful vocals on the bluesy Sonkolon or on a praise song to Oumou, and echoes Oumou's bravery in the passionate, no-nonsense Boloko, a plea to end female circumcision. It's an enjoyable, impressive set, but now she must show if she really has the originality of Mali's greatest female singers.


Robin Denselow

The GuardianTramp

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