It’s been 5 years since singer Oumou Sangaré released her phenomenal album Mogoya. So it does make sense that it’s time for a follow-up. The singer-star shines just as brightly on Timbuktu, a passionate tribute to her homeland (Mali) that is still in a state of war.
Debut album – Mogoya.
Ever since her 1991 debut, Oumou Sangare has been one of Mali’s most important artists. On her previous album it was mostly an acoustic affair, on Timbuktu she spreads her musical wings like never before.
Mogoya’s fresh, grooving synthesizer- dominated sound has been exchanged for more tradition: on Timbuktu the harp and the civilized ripping of slide and blues guitars play the leading role. But what a healing power once again lurks in the often rather stripped-down accompaniment. Especially thanks to Sangaré’s matchless and unparalleled smooth Malian soul voice.
Her sometimes painfully beautiful timbre draws you into the plaintive yet comforting Demissimw, a highlight of the album and one of the most beautiful songs she ever made. When Sangaré and soft second voices are joined by a softly crying violin, her song goes through marrow and bone. Yet we don’t hear only sadness. In the rocking blues number Wassulu Don, Sangaré refuses to resign herself to the malaise and sings of the resilience of women and the ancient Malian culture, with tightly plucked, centuries-old hunter’s harps.
Oumou Sangaré – Timbuktu is an album that commands respect, particularly vocally. In the ethereal closing song Sabou Dogoné, Sangaré sings in her lowest registers, and the distant choir voices that surround her give the song a heavenly glow.
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