Amadou & Mariam – Folila

Amadou & Mariam – Folila
(Gallo)

That album's incessant feel good factor, coupled with its killer pop hooks and great collaborations was a high point in the duos career and one that established them as global pop stars.

Opener Sabali, which the band wrote and recorded with Damon Albarn of Blur and Gorillaz fame, was a dance floor anthem, all disco bounce and scintillating vocals, which took the world by storm.

Fast-forward to 2012 and the duo have returned with their new album Folila, which was recorded twice, once in New York with guest artists like Santigold, Yeah Yeah Yeahs' Nick Zinner, Scissor Sisters' Jake Shears, Theophilus London and members of Afrobeat group Antibalas and New York rockers TV on the Radio.

Also joining the band was controversial French rocker Bertrand Cantat, who in 2004 was sentenced to eight years in jail for beating his then girlfriend to death after an argument.

He was released in 2007 after serving half of his term and re-launched his music career in 2010 and now finds himself jamming with Africa's pop superstars.

Global feel
Once the duo had completed the New York recording sessions for the album, they returned to Mali's capital in Bomako and once again recorded the album, this time using Malian musicians.

The resulting album blends elements from these two sessions, sometimes within the same song, giving a truly global feel to the album.

However, the recording strategy is also probably the reason that the album doesn't feel as consistent as Welcome to Mali.

In other words it was an interesting idea, but it doesn't quite work.

But let's not be too critical, after all this is an Amadou and Mariam album and they are the king and queen of African pop, at least in the West's eyes.


So naturally there are some great songs on Folila, such as opener Dougou Badia, which features American pop star Santigold.

Musical heritage
The song starts with Amadou on guitar and Mariam's voice with some light cowbell rhythm.

After a minute the songs begins to explode into life as Santigold struts in on vocals and some roaring guitar from the Yeah Yeah Yeahs' Nick Zinner compliments Amadou's axe-work.

It's a storming way to open the album and initially gave me faith that Amadou & Mariam had actually managed to top Welcome to Mali.

Wily Kataso, which features Tunde Adebimpe and Kyp Malone from TV on the Radio on vocals and Malian musician Bassekou Kouyate on Ngoni, is a slow groove that brings the musical heritage of Maliinto the world of American soul, with great funk-guitar work from Amadou and Zinner.

Another highlight is Africa Mon Afrique, which features most of the Malian musicians, is a horn-driven, reggae-infused stomper with some great vocals from Cantat, while C'est Pas Facile Pour Les Aigles is a pop nugget with some sugary pop vocals from British newcomer Ebony Bones and some great horn work from Jordan McLean, Nadav Nirenberg, Stuart Bogie and Jared Tankel from Antibalas.
 

For more in-depth album reviews, see our special report.

These are unprecedented times, and the role of media to tell and record the story of South Africa as it develops is more important than ever. But it comes at a cost. Advertisers are cancelling campaigns, and our live events have come to an abrupt halt. Our income has been slashed.

The Mail & Guardian is a proud news publisher with roots stretching back 35 years. We’ve survived thanks to the support of our readers, we will need you to help us get through this.

To help us ensure another 35 future years of fiercely independent journalism, please subscribe.

Lloyd Gedye
Lloyd Gedye
Lloyd Gedye is a freelance journalist and one of the founders of The Con.
Advertising

Protective equipment for schools in KwaZulu-Natal goes ‘missing’

Without protective equipment, schools in uMlazi, Pinetown and Zululand won’t meet the already delayed deadline for reopening

The statue of Louis XVI should remain forever handless

A statue of the French king in Louisville, Kentucky was damaged during the protests against police killings. It should not be repaired

On the road with East African truck drivers

In East Africa, truck drivers are being attacked, robbed and used as diplomatic footballs
Advertising

Press Releases

Empowering his people to unleash their potential

'Being registered as an AGA(SA) means you are capable of engineering an idea and turning it into money,' says Raymond Mayekisa

What is an AGA(SA) and AT(SA) and why do they matter?

If your company has these qualified professionals it will help improve efficiencies and accelerate progress by assisting your organisation to perform better

Mining company uses rich seam of technology to gear up for Covid-19

Itec Direct technology provides instant temperature screening of staff returniing to the workplace with no human contact

Covid-19 and Back to School Webinar

If our educators can take care of themselves, they can take care of the children they teach

5G technology is the future

Besides a healthcare problem Covid-19 is also a data issue and 5G technology, with its lightning speed, can help to curb its spread

JTI off to court for tobacco ban: Government not listening to industry or consumers

The tobacco ban places 109 000 jobs and 179 000 wholesalers and retailers at risk — including the livelihood of emerging farmers

Holistic Financial Planning for Professionals Webinar

Our lives are constantly in flux, so it makes sense that your financial planning must be reviewed frequently — preferably on an annual basis

Undeterred by Covid-19 pandemic, China and Africa hold hands, building a community of a shared future for mankind

It is clear that building a community with a shared future for all mankind has become a more pressing task than ever before

The best local and international journalism

handpicked and in your inbox every weekday