Anyone who has had more than a passing acquaintance with the African part of their music store’s World section is going to find most of this familiar territory (four words. Miriam Makeba. “Pata Pata”) but don’t let that detract from your opinion of the album. It’s a finely calibrated machine, the tracks picked out with discernment. If you’re going to include Kandia Kouyate then her second album was the right one to go for, and “Sanougnaoule” was an intelligent song to choose. The style overall is what you could call new roots—African folk reimagined so that it sounds like a specific musician’s personal piece of expression rather than a field recording. (Busi Mhlongo on “Yapheli’mali Yami” sounds as unerringly South African as “Penny Lane” sounds unerringly British; she also sounds as unerringly Mhlongo as the Beatles sound unerringly the Beatles.) Think Global: Women of Africa is a great beginner’s guide, or a handy way to plug holes in your collection if you’ve been wondering what Vakoka sound like but feel reluctant to shell out for their full album. Check the track listing first to make sure you’re not doubling up on too many songs.
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