Review | Songlines

Mayam

Rating: ★★★

View album and artist details

Album and Artist Details

Artist/band:

Nuru Kane

Label:

Tchekchouka

January/February/2022

Nuru Kane deserves to be one of Africa’s crossover heroes, thanks to his ability to effortlessly switch between different styles. And he proves it once again with his fourth album, the first to be released since 2013. Born in Dakar, but for years a resident in France, he is influenced not just by Senegalese mbalax but by the Gnawa music of Morocco (he plays the gimbri, the three-stringed, long-necked Gnawa lute, as well as guitar), and has gone on to add other African styles into the mix, alongside reggae, rock, and funk.

He has a light, easy-going approach, writes mostly cheerful upbeat songs, and is backed by the suitably versatile Bayefall Gnawa band (like Cheikh Lô, he is a follower of Senegal’s Baye Fall Islamic sect). The new set starts with a rousing and energetic burst of Afrobeat, complete with jazzy keyboards and political lyrics (some in English), before easing into a loping reggae song, then an energetic burst of mbalax, and a tuneful and charming ballad featuring fine gimbri work. Towards the end, the album drifts off into less interesting bass-heavy, rumbling and chanting songs, or passages pitting gimbri against wailing rock guitar. A mixed bag, maybe, but worth checking out.

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