Songlines | Oumou Sangaré

Africa & Middle East

Oumou Sangaré
Mogoya (No Format!)

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The release of a new studio album from the stylish and charismatic Malian singer is always a major event and after an eight-year absence, Oumou Sangaré made a spectacular return to the fray in 2017 with Mogoya. Only her second album of new material in more than 20 years, Mogoya reassured long-time fans with a sound that remains rooted in the rich musical heritage of her native Wassoulou region, while her voice is as soulful as ever and the message of female empowerment remains vital.

And yet Mogoya has a potent new twist – for this is Oumou in a more boldly experimental vein than we have heard before, the traditional African instruments such as the kamalengoni (hunter’s harp) and calabash percussion augmented by rock guitars, keyboards and subtle washes of electronica on a strikingly funky makeover overseen by A.L.B.E.R.T, the French production team. Afrobeat pioneer Tony Allen’s drums drive a brace of songs and Vincent Segal adds cello to the title-track. “I’ve been totally in the tradition for years, so to have a look around elsewhere was a total pleasure,” Oumou notes. It’s a pleasure that is entirely mutual.

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