May 29, 2014

Sia Tolno | African Woman

ARTIST: Sia Tolno
TITLE: African Woman
LABEL: Lusafrica
The third international album by Sierra Leonean-Guinean singer Sia Tolno sees her collaborating with Afrobeat legend Tony Allen, who Brian Eno has called “perhaps the greatest drummer who has ever lived.” Tolno has a powerful, gutsy voice that immediately makes me think of Angelique Kidjo; like Kidjo she dabbles in many genres but excels in the popular dance music of her native West Africa. Allen, Fela Kuti’s original drummer, is still going strong at age 73; his drumming here is just exemplary, he co-wrote ten of the twelve songs here and produced the project as well. The sound will be familiar to fans of Allen’s work as a bandleader (count me as one of them): it’s the jazzy end of Afrobeat with moderate tempos and Allen’s remarkable polyrhythms front and center. Tolno shares the spotlight equally with her strong voice and her direct, political lyrics focusing on women’s issues like education (track 1, my favorite here, with a quintessential Allen sound) and female genital mutilation (8). Track 4 is fast and edgy; 2 is a bit more in an Afropop vein; and 7 is festive and muscular. Here’s the new queen of Afrobeat – a very impressive album.
TOP TRACKS:    1    2    4    7    8
ALSO RECOMMENDED:    3    6    9    10

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