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Various Artists

The Rough Guide to African Lullabies

(Rough Guides; US: 30 Aug 2011; UK: 29 Aug 2011)

Tell me, is it soft? Yes, it is. Is it gentle? Yes. Is it some sort of lazy thing the company has slapped together so that they can market it to gullible parents, who are always anxious about their child’s? No, it isn’t a lazy compilation, and for evidence I point to this Ethiopian track, “Mother’s Love”, composed by the pianist-nun Emahoy Tsegué-Maryam Guèbro, a choice so inspired and so unusual that in lullaby album compilation terms it’s pretty much indicative of genius. OK, so these are gentle, soft tracks that were aimed originally at adults, not tracks taken from African albums aimed at children? Yes, except for the opening song, which has a voiceover from a woman saying, “Oh dear baby, do not be afraid of lions because mother and father and sister and uncle, etc, will protect you all night long,” and then Ladysmith Black Mambazo sings “Wimoweh” so the child will be soothed and the adults won’t die of boredom.  The adults will probably enjoy it. Will my baby go to sleep? It depends on the baby.

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