What's unfamiliar here is Arby herself, driving everything forward at a coruscating pace.
This desert blues train rolls on. The music of dry Africa continues inextinguishable. Khaïra Arby has been performing in Mali for twenty years, but in the Western market she's a shiny new thing, smiling, laughing, wrapped hugely in cloth. The voice that emerges from this gorgeous mass has the edge of a fencing sword. The familiar ingredients are here: dense electric guitars, groups of women clapping in patterns, yelps and ululations, the great general yawping wildness structured and refined into an expression of communal pleasure. The unfamiliar ingredient is Arby herself, driving everything forward at a coruscating pace. Loves her late brother, hates female genital mutilation -- the woman has her priorities in order.