Why is Malagasy music not more popular in the English-speaking world? The guitar work, seen live, is awe-inspiring, and the music is nimble and rapid. Perhaps it’s the pace, or perhaps people hear this complicated tumble of notes coming towards them and step back, muttering, “It’s too much, too unfamiliar.” Perhaps it’s the accordion.
Zebu Nation is Madagascar in a softly ripened beachy pop mood: plump, smooth, and digestible as a pear. The music moves in swells, as Razia is persuasive and firm, and when the instruments start to gallop, as they do in “Salamalama Aby”, her voice is like a hand laid on the song, radiating balance. (The combination of speed and calm is handled by the island’s musicians with supreme adeptness.) The accordion moves along, sometimes electronically manipulated, sometimes twinkling, occasionally getting a little more raucous but never too raucous — this is a dulcet album.