Kankou Kouyate is the latest Star to emerge from Mali's musical capital of Bamako having previously worked with Toumani Diabate and Bassekou Kouyate among others this is her debut solo album recorded with Mark Mulholland who she met in Bamako and decided to collaborate with this rather brilliant album is the result.
The opening song Sigi starts like an old song by Trad Gras Och Stenar and I wasn't expecting a Swedish prog influence to the sound but the laid back guitars weaving into the percussion and Kankou starts to sing in a very rich voice that reminds me of the Mahotella Queens the traditional African side of it the song comes through according to the liner notes it's a song about forced marriage and being sold for 10 Cola nuts unfortunately my French isn't good enough to get how sad a tale it probably is.
Da has an almost Palm Wine style feel to it as a stripped back calm song that's apparently telling some poor bloke with a big mouth to shut up and mind his own while sounding like she's wrapping it up in such a way that even the dimmest bloke could be lulled into silence and doing what he's told.
Kuma Is the second single from the album as well as the title track that translates from Bambara as Words has some cool almost proggy guitar that sounds like it wants to be Kanda Bongo Man going prog against the beats created by Olaf Hund and Kankou singing about how you should be careful what you say as you may regret the consequences.
Bin is desert blues guitar picking with Vincent Bucher blowing some harmonica over the dunes as Kankou please for men to sort out their differences without using guns and knives and instead work on making sure your family is strong.
Obadaya was the first single from the album and is a happy party song about wanting to dance and sing and laugh and again has a Palm wine meets high life feel to it.
Ne Bi Fi is a nicely insistent love song about proving to your parents that your mature enough to choose your own boyfriend and that the boy in question can win them over the backing is nicely hypnotic as it lures you in.
Dimi starts slow and sure like something off of Mors Mors by Trad Gras Och Stenar but with Kankou's deep rich voice taking us off on a different journey as the young couple fight against there parents to be allowed to be together rather than sing about your grandma although maybe the grandma can intervene on the kids behalf and of course the repeating riff has shades of Hendrix within it.
Ka Da Koma is a wonderfully stripped back desert blues about finding your own voice and to go for it and not keep comparing yourself to better players and singers etc as the harmonica helps to make the music drift off as the encouragement keeps coming.
Yande is one of the more psych sounding songs guitar wise as Kankou sings about not liking it when people spread lies about you and how you should rise above the lies as the revolving riff seems to get more insistent.
The album closes with Djuguya that sounds quite reflective and almost down at heart as Kankou sings about moving on and proving the doubters wrong and going on to achieve your destiny it's a nice mellow end to a wonderful album that I have been happily listening to on repeat without getting bored at all, easily one of the debut albums of the year.
Find out more at www.canneryrowrecords.com www.kankou.ml www.facebook.com/kankoumusic/