Raised in Mali but resident in Paris for a decade, this ex-actress brings a dash of cosmopolitan elegance to her Wassoulou roots. Fatou supplements her guitar-playing – Diawara is very much the singer-songwriter – with jazzy electric piano and subtle touches of west African harp and lute. The result is a folksy sound that allows her lithe vocals and forceful songs to shine. Like fellow Mali singer Oumou Sangaré, to whom she dedicates a song, Diawara champions women's causes, denouncing arranged marriage and female circumcision, though she also delivers simple love calls such as the opening "Kanou". An impressive debut from a powerful new voice.
Neil Spencer is a writer and an astrologer for The Observer