If you were alive during the ‘80s, or have ever watched VH1 for more than say, 20 consecutive minutes, you’ve probably seen the video for Paul Simon’s “Call Me Al.” As an music aficionado, you probably know that “Call Me Al” was part of Simon’s Graceland album, which is the pinnacle of Simon’s solo career so far, gaining him awards and much deserved acclaim. You probably know, too, that Simon’s inspiration for that album was the music he heard on a trip to Africa.
If you liked Graceland for Paul Simon’s voice, and only his voice, Muso Ko may not be your cup of tea. However, if you enjoyed Graceland for its rhythms, interesting instrumentations, and its emotional African vocals, this album should be right up your alley.
Muso Ko, (which means “woman,”) is teeming with great music. The vocals are continually rich and full, almost choir-like at times. They work throughout all of the up-tempo tunes and the slower stuff, too. Of course, all of the lyrics are in Koite’s home language, which I assume is Bambara, since he’s from Mali, and 80% of their population speaks Bambara, according to Mali Interactive. (Yeah, I did research for this one.) Thankfully, the liner notes contain the English translations, most of which are very deep.
The guitars and percussion are both tremendous. Koite’s plugged-in-acoustic sound is vibrantly bright when it should be, but in turn, it can be just as mellow. His soloing is technically phenomenal, and his rhythm playing lends a subtle touch to the overall feel of the album. Aside from the traditional rock-style drum kit, the percussion features a lot of bongos and non-set percussion, including what is referred to as a talking drum. It doesn’t really talk, (disappointingly,) but it definitely sounds very cool, as does the rest of the percussion.
Koite’s music has a very spiritual tone, one with a deep sense of reverence for both his homeland and his earth, and for the people who dwell around him. His music is self-reflective and socially aware, clearly showing his concern for his place on the face of the earth.