First published in Songlines Magazine issue 102, August/September 2014.
Clermont Music (58 mins)
With Addoh, his debut album, guitarist and singer Oumar Konate seeks to place himself amongst the ever-growing pantheon of Mali’s global stars. Having worked as a backing musician for Vieux Farka Touré, Sidi Touré and Khaira Arby, Konate takes things in his own direction, mixing the guitar styles of northern Mali with rock, funk, reggae and more, with some pieces even bringing to mind Senegalese mbalax.
Although the variety of styles presented on the album generally works in its favour, Addoh seems at its weakest when trying out reggae: the opening track is based on a cool reggae groove and misses the mark a bit. After that though, the album begins to pick up, and its second track ‘Bisimillah’ is probably the best of the lot, with Konate’s distorted guitar providing dramatic exclamations above a brooding blues.
Konate also introduces some interesting guests to his band: current hot-property Sidiki Diabaté brings his kora to the duet ‘Terya’ to good results and the American-Ethiopian horn section of Debo Band, though they feel somewhat underused.
Addoh isn’t a great album, but it’s certainly a good one, and one that shows promise and some exciting directions. Konate is one to keep an eye on.