The Man I Love
A Ou Ni Sou
With three exquisite albums of gently lilting afro-pop under her belt Rokia Traore stands as one of the most accomplished, and at the same time uncharacteristic, Malian performers to gain the attention of an international audience in recent decades. While she was raised in the same Bamana tribe that produced such famed Malian virtuosos as Baboucar Traore and Toumani Diabate, the eclectic, genre-defying pop of albums like Wanita bears little resemblance to these artists’ stolid traditionalism. Traore’s fourth full-length, Tchamantché, sees her borrowing extensively from the lithe, guitar-led melodies and tricky syncopation of Malian Bajourou music, but numbers like “Kounandi,” with its keening vocals and “Dianfa” with its painterly splashes of unrestrained electric guitar, invoke Algerian and Moroccan pop, while Traore’s surprisingly straightforward rendition of Billie Holiday’s “The Man I Love” demonstrates a deep understanding of American Jazz. Like all Traore albums, Tchamantché is filled with quietly virtuosic, deeply unpretentious music that partakes from the best of both African and Western musical traditions.