sun 16/06/2024

CD: Amadou & Mariam - Folila | reviews, news & interviews

CD: Amadou & Mariam - Folila

CD: Amadou & Mariam - Folila

An album that treads water is saved by the diversity of its guest contributors

Amadou & Mariam: one of Africa's most internationally successful bands

With the subject of the legitimacy of the label “world music” having just had another airing in The Guardian, it seems fitting that Mali’s favourite musical couple should be releasing their least “world music” album to date.

For essentially, Folila (which translates as "music" in Bambara) is a blues/rock album. Yes there’s an occasional appearance of a politely plucked kora between blasts of distorted electric guitar, or the distant patter of African percussion discernable behind the workman-like rock drumming, but they seem almost like a token nod towards their roots when measured against the general rock arrangements and production.

Many acts come seriously undone when they do their “Special Guests” album. Perhaps this is because songs tend to be tailor-made or specifically chosen to accommodate said special guest’s individual style. Or maybe it’s because the whole thing can so easily turn into a rather sickly exercise in mutual back slapping. But A&M’s DNA is by far the dominant strain here, so things don’t turn out too badly on the whole. The guests (which include Jake Shears of the Scissor Sisters, TV on the Radio and Amp Fiddler) have generally adapted to the template rather than expected the template to be reconfigured to accommodate them. So even though almost every track features someone different, the overall sound is more cohesive than many albums of this ilk.

The best song for my money is “C’est pas facile pour les aigles”, which slightly remodels the riff from “Louie Louie” (or if you prefer, the riff from Ritchie Valens's “La Bamba”) and benefits greatly from the contribution from delightfully unhinged English hip-pop (sic) artist Ebony Bones. The only lyrics I can discern are, “She’s got too much melanin”. So if anyone can enlighten me further on what the song’s about, do please leave a comment below. File under “Global Pop/Rock/Blues”.

The guests (including TV on the Radio and Amp Fiddler) have adapted to the template rather than expected the template to be reconfigured to accommodate them


Editor Rating: 
Average: 3 (1 vote)

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