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Habib Koité / Eric Bibb

Brothers in Bamako

(Stony Plain; US: 6 Nov 2012; UK: 24 Dec 2012)

The album opens with a song so simple it sounds as if it’s been written for a choir of children, Eric Bibb singing, “I’m on my way to Ba-ma-KO / A place I’ve always wanted-to-GO,” and I don’t think I ever got over the impatience that chewed on me during that song. The two stringsmen, one Malian one American, met years ago when Putumayo was recording them both for Mali to Memphis. This album has a Putumayo bonhomie, guitars gently strummed, voices on the upswing, social criticisms delivered like aromatic hymns (“We Don’t Care”), Bibb making his way through the blues traditional “Goin’ Down the Road Feeling Bad” sounding as if bad is something you feel softly and thoughtfully. Koité brings in Malian songs of his own, they play together, sometimes they alternate lyrics in their different languages: two musicians merging with as little friction as possible.

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