Monday, 11 May 2015

Manuel Diogo - Music of Angola

First published in Songlines Magazine issue 108, June 2015.

Manuel Diogo
Music of Angola
ARC Music (50 mins)

Manuel Diogo’s style is described as ‘traditional and contemporary Angolan gospel music’. In practice, this means that recognisable gospel sounds (from the harmonies of African choirs to modern R’n’B-inspired crooning) are mixed with Angolan dance music such as semba and rebita as well as with folk styles and a liberal dose of reggae here and there. The overall feel of the album is happy and light-hearted. It is very cheesy, but often endearingly so, with Casio-esque synths and drum machines aplenty, and matters of God at the forefront of most tracks.

The album has a bit of a wobble just before the end – a couple of unoriginal and uninspired international-gospel tracks with some dubious tunings – before the last track of the set gets back to form and back to Angola with a bright and soukous-like jive.

The liner notes are a little vague on whether Diogo is leading a group here or whether it’s more of a one-man-band sort of operation, but the music he creates is as unpretentious as you can get – unashamedly sunny music from a man who knows what he likes singing about.