Rokia Traoré: Né So review – reflective and lyrical

(Nonesuch)

The Malian singer continues to cut a singular trajectory through modern music. On the heels of a fine, Miles-esque outing with trumpeter Erik Truffaz comes a sixth solo album, like 2013’s Beautiful Africa cut with producer John Parish, though with fewer rock influences. The guitars and ngoni still murmur and jingle with the odd Dire Straits-ish riff (an early influence), but the mood is more reflective. Traoré’s vocals remain smooth, agile and sometimes challenging; lyrical on Amour, sultry on Ilé, mournful on a cover of Lady Day’s Strange Fruit. Né So, a desert blues, reflects Traoré’s experiences in her war-torn homeland, while Sé Dan is a ‘one world, one destiny’ credo with Toni Morrison.

Contributor

Neil Spencer

The GuardianTramp

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