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Hermas Zopoula

Espoir

(Asthmatic Kitty; US: 19 May 2009; UK: Available as import)

“Comparisons to singer/song-writer Seu Jorge are inevitable,” insists the publicity page at Asthmatic Kitty’s website. They’re not. This mild-mannered singer from Burkina Faso with his soukousish sweetness sounds nothing like Seu Jorge. “Other audible influences in Hermas’ music are Afro-pop pioneer Thomas Mapfumo, King Sunny Ade, and Toumani Diabate’s Symmetric Orchestra.” You’re just pulling names out of a hat here, aren’t you, Kitty people? Come on, you seriously are. Hermas Zopoula is affable and he comes accompanied by a chorus of equally affable women and a bunch of proof that the chintzy rash of keyboards that spread across Africa in the 1980s just will not die. Those other more famous musicians whip their songs into vivid sets of highs and lows but Zopoula prefers to lope into a groove, follow it for a while, then let it go. A sunny, bubbling sound. If we’re playing the game of comparing him to well-known people then how about a mellower and less expensively equipped Kanda Bongo Man minus the trademark hat? See, I’m stretching too.

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