Timbuktu

Oumou Sangaré

Timbuktu

On the dynamic Timbuktu, Oumou Sangaré—affectionately referred to as the Songbird of Wassoulou—channels several moods and textures over sounds shaped by Pascal Danaë and Nicolas Quéré. Weaving elements of blues, folk, pop, and rock into traditional Wassoulou rhythms, the Grammy Award-winning Malian musician bridges borders both sonic and geographic. Recorded across Baltimore, Paris, and Bamako, this 13th album sees Sangaré meditating on the fate of women as well as social, existential, and political issues. Her lithe vocals and poignant lyrics are accompanied by longtime collaborator Mamadou Sidibé’s kamele n’goni (traditional lute), Balla Kouyaté’s balafon (xylophone), and Danaë’s dobro and slide guitar, alongside the reeds and keys of Quéré. With her signature feminist impulse running through these 11 tracks, Sangaré looks both inward and outward, offering empowerment on “Sira,” bemoaning betrayal on the deceptively sprightly “Sarama,” and referencing a lifelong commitment to the upliftment of women on “Gniani Sara.” While aggravation and loneliness characterize “Kêlê Magni” and “Degui N’Kelena,” respectively, Sangaré bookends her lamentations between the cultural pride of opener “Wassulu Don” and the celebration of Wassoulou ancestry on “Sabou Dogoné.” In much the same way that Timbuktu symbolizes Mali’s rich history, the album represents hope and optimism for its future. “Timbuktu, crossroad of knowledge,” Sangaré sings on the title track, “legendary city known all over the world.”

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