Rokia Traoré's "Beautiful Africa" Now Available Worldwide
Today marks the release of singer, songwriter, and multi-instrumentalist Rokia Traoré’s new album, Beautiful Africa, in the United States. The record, which was released internationally earlier this year to critical acclaim, was produced by English musician John Parish. Beautiful Africa’s lyrics are sung in Traoré’s native languages of French and Bambara, as well as some English. The album is available at iTunes and in the Nonesuch Store, where CD orders include a download of the complete album at checkout and MP3 and FLAC files are also available to purchase.
"The Malian singer Rokia Traoré has a gentle voice with a steely core, one that’s revealed more clearly than ever on Beautiful Africa," says the New York Times music critic Jon Pareles. "The album was produced by John Parish, who does for Ms. Traoré what he’s done for P. J. Harvey and Eels: stripping away all unnecessary prettiness, focusing on a handful of instruments and a fully exposed voice, scratches and all. The album captures songs as they meditate, like 'Mélancolie,' or spontaneously combust, like 'Kouma,' about seduction and betrayal, and 'Sikey,' about defying caste." Read the complete review at nytimes.com.
NPR, in selecting the new album for a First Listen last week, concluded: "Beautiful Africa is just as smart and lovely as its creator." Citing the collaboration with Parish, NPR Music's Anastasia Tsioulcas added: "It's an inspired idea, and there may not be an artist better equipped to pull off the combination with such ease and grace."
Following its international release, Beautiful Africa earned five stars from the Observer, Guardian, and Songlines, which raves: "It really doesn’t get better than this in today’s African music ... Rokia’s work is exciting, surprising, and always perfectly executed." Uncut said: “Traoré’s sinuous voice sits at the centre of a hybrid maelstrom that combines the raw, earthy source of Malian rhythms with snarling rock guitars and pneumatic garage energy,” and called it “the record fans of her explosive live shows always hoped she would make and a career highpoint.”
Pitchfork described Traoré’s previous record, 2009’s Tchamantché, as “a guitar album of a particularly understated bent ... hauntingly spare yet ridiculously well-defined, the timbre and tone of every string presented in perfect resolution.” Tchamantché won a Victoires de la Musique (the equivalent of a Grammy Award in France) and a Songlines Artist of the Year Award for Traoré.
Rokia Traoré is currently touring Europe and the UK, after which she will bring the music of Beautiful Africa to the United States, starting with a performance at Lincoln Center's Rose Theater for the White Light Festival on November 15.