Mamani Keita on acoustic tracks
New album, Kanou
Up until now, Mamani Keita’s studio work had always involved an Afro-electro twosome that had almost become her trademark. But for her fourth album, Kanou, the Malian singer has taken the driver’s seat and set off in an acoustic direction.
From the outside, Kanou comes across as a new stage in Keita’s career. This artist of many projects seems to have reached the end of an apprenticeship and decided she’s ready to embark on an emancipating journey.
The singer herself describes the move in simpler terms: the reason it’s taken her this long to release a first album in her own name is that the work offers that flowed in after Electro Bamako with Marc Minelli in 2002 were enough to satisfy her thirst for combining, even confronting, Malian music with other styles.
It’s a direction she pursued after l’argent français, her second album with the Frenchman Nicolas Repac, participating in the album Sing Twice! by Belgian pianist Eric Legnini, and continuing the adventure with him at numerous live events last year.
The groundwork she did for this new project saw Keita take on a new criterion: pragmatic. She opted to work with a smaller team to keep down the budget and put more energy into performing her songs live.
This time round, she is accompanied by a ngoni, percussion instruments and a guitar: strummed by the remarkable Diely Moussa Kouyaté, her compatriot who often accompanies Salif Keita, and who has become something of a sidekick for Mamani given the number of times they’ve played together.
Their recipe is the same: she brings the songs, sometimes dictated by current events, like Dounia, a reaction to the crisis that has crippled her country, and they shape them together, adding the final touches with Marc-Antoine Moreau, who successfully crafted the likes of Amadou and Mariam.
The experienced producer worked with a speed that the singer particularly appreciated. The more conventional register gives her voice new room for expression, without trying to overdo it. The result is a natural sound, like an instinct.
Mamani Keita Kanou (World Village / Harmonia Mundi) 2014
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