Cheikh Lo: Balbalou review – a patchy but welcome return

(Chapter Two)

Cheikh Lô would be a major star if he were a little more prolific and consistent. This is his first album in five years, and there was an equally long wait for his previous set – which is unfortunate, because he has a distinctive, soulful and easy-going style, mixing Senegalese mbalax with influences from across Africa and as far afield as Brazil. Balbalou starts magnificently, with a trio of songs that include a cheerfully rousing collaboration with the Brazilian singer Flavia Coelho and the French accordionist Fixi on Degg Gui, and a powerful appearance from Mali’s Oumou Sangare on the driving Doyal Naniou, an attack on the African propensity for coup d’états. But from then on, the songs aren’t as distinctive as his voice, despite the introduction of Congolese influences, a drifting collaboration with trumpeter Ibrahim Maalouf and a scat workout. It’s a patchy set, but it’s still good to have him back.


Robin Denselow

The GuardianTramp

Related Content

Article image
Cheikh Lô: Balbalou review – back on form with a sleek and sultry set
The Senegalese singer returns to top form with a lushly produced, strong new album

Neil Spencer

07, Jun, 2015 @7:00 AM

Cheikh Lô – review

This was a curiously sloppy and unfocused show from one of Africa's most brilliant musicians, writes Robin Denselow

Robin Denselow

14, Jan, 2011 @10:46 PM

Article image
Cheikh Lô – review
Feted Senegalese singer Cheikh Lô is at his best when he steps out from behind the drumkit, writes Kitty Empire

Kitty Empire

16, Jan, 2011 @12:06 AM

Cheikh Lo, Jazz Cafe, London

Jazz Cafe, London

Robin Denselow

06, Mar, 2006 @9:31 AM

Article image
CD: Cheikh Lo, Lamp Fall

(World Circuit)

Robin Denselow

21, Oct, 2005 @12:55 AM

Article image
Turin Brakes: Lost Property review – quiet complexity on acoustic rockers' welcome return
Their gently rocking sound may have been subsumed by Coldplay et al’s unsubtle bombast, but there is still much confidence and charm here

Harriet Gibsone

28, Jan, 2016 @10:15 PM

Article image
Faith No More: Sol Invictus review – not their best, but a welcome return
Faith No More return with an album that proves Mike Patton still hasn’t given up experimenting, but it’s not up there with their best material

Lanre Bakare

14, May, 2015 @8:00 PM

Cheikh Lo Worldbeat Ball, Pavilion, Bath

Pavilion, Bath

John L Walters

31, May, 2006 @11:40 PM

Cheikh Lo, Cargo, London

Cargo, London

John L Walters

03, Jun, 2002 @1:53 AM

Toro y Moi: Anything in Return – review
Chaz Bundick, aka Toro Y Moi, returns to his disco-party mode on this beautifully inventive and complex album, writes Maddy Costa

Maddy Costa

17, Jan, 2013 @10:14 PM