Cheikh Lô’s "Jamm" Released in N. America June 7; Reconfirms Place Among "Finest, Most Soulful Singers in W. Africa" (Guardian)
Senegalese musician Cheikh Lô’s first album in five years, Jamm, will be released in North America June 7. Upon its European release last year, Uncut called it the “African album of the year,” and the Guardian said, “Cheikh Lô is back with an album that reconfirms his position as one of the finest, one of the most soulful singers in West Africa.” In a four-star review, Q called it “true global music to make anyone feel better.” On Jamm, Lô’s mbalax rhythms and signature blend of semi-acoustic flavors—West and Central African, funk, Cuban, flamenco—support his husky vocals, with help from his regular band plus Tony Allen on drums and Pee Wee Ellis on sax.
Senegalese Sufi musician Cheikh Lô’s first album in five years, Jamm, will be released in North America June 7 by Word Circuit / Nonesuch Records. The record received critical praise in the UK and Europe when it was released there last year, with Uncut calling it the “African album of the year,” and the Guardian saying, “Cheikh Lô is back with an album that reconfirms his position as one of the finest, one of the most soulful singers in West Africa.” In a four-star review, Q called Jamm “true global music to make anyone feel better.” The album is available for pre-order now in the Nonesuch Store.
On Jamm, which means “peace” in Wolof, Lô’s mbalax rhythms and signature blend of semi-acoustic flavors—West and Central African, funk, Cuban, flamenco—support his husky vocals, sung in four different languages (English, Wolof, French, and Jula, a dialect of Bambara spoken in Burkina Faso).
For all its diversity, Jamm is rooted firmly in Lô’s own backyard, built around simple demos recorded with GarageBand software at the house of his friend and bass player Thierno Sarr. Lô’s lead and harmony vocals, acoustic guitar, and percussion have been augmented with additional electric guitar, drums, bass, sax, and Senegalese percussion from members of his regular band. In London, further touches were added by his old friends Tony Allen (drums) and Pee Wee Ellis (sax).
Growing up with Senegalese parents in Burkina Faso near the border of Mali during the 1950s, Cheikh Lô played the musical genres of the time, including Cuban and Congolese styles. He gave his first performances as a young man in Bobo Dioulasso, Burkina’s creative capital and hotbed of musical activity, and later moved to Dakar. But it was not until he made his way to Paris in 1985 that he began to build the relationships that would make up his unique musical community.
Since his first internationally distributed record, the Youssou N’Dour–produced Né La Thiass (1996), Cheikh Lô has received increasing acclaim worldwide. His last album, Lamp Fall, was highly praised; on NPR’s All Things Considered, African music expert Banning Eyre said Lô “proves himself one of the most dynamic creators in today’s African music” and the Associated Press called the record “a globe-hopping aural adventure.”
Friday, February 24, 2017Friday, February 24, 2017
Freedom Highway, Rhiannon Giddens' follow-up to her highly praised solo debut album, Tomorrow Is My Turn, is out now. It's a "rich collection," says NPR. "[H]ope comes back to life in Giddens' music." Pitchfork exclaims: "Rhiannon Giddens emerges as a peerless and powerful voice in roots music on her second solo album." The AP calls it "a rich tapestry with threads of blues, folk, gospel, soul, country and jazz ... rootsy and relevant, delivered with crystal-clear emotion and understated musical skill." Uncut names this "remarkably wise and timely new album" its Album of the Month. It earns four stars in American Songwriter, Irish Times ("a record for and of our times"), Observer, and Guardian, which calls it a "powerful and timely set."
Friday, February 10, 2017Friday, February 10, 2017
Rhiannon Giddens's five-song EP Factory Girl, first released on vinyl and digitally in late 2015, is now available on CD for the first time. The EP, which is up for Grammy Awards for Best American Roots Performance and Best Folk Album, is culled from the T Bone Burnett–produced sessions that yielded Giddens's acclaimed solo debut album, Tomorrow Is My Turn. "It's a clutch of tunes that work together like the cards in a winning poker hand," the New York Times says of Factory Girl. "Her accompaniment … points to an ageless gold standard for American roots music." "Deftly curated, gorgeously sung," says NPR, "this EP is America." Her new album, Freedom Highway, is due February 24.