It is the sultriness in Shekhinah’s voice that initially spurred my consideration for her – I first listened to her at the Blankets & Wine festival held in December 2017. Thus, with the cheery sass of a hopeful lover, I recently listened to Rose Gold, her debut album released October 2017.

The album quality is good enough that should appeal to anyone who bubbles over contemporary RnB and boom-bap infused with minimalist electro beats. At best, the real strength of this production lies in simplistic melodic repetitions in tracks that I found relatively static. The vocals, albeit smooth and beautiful, quite plainly play their role.

In an interview with South Africa’s Channel24, Shekhinah is reported to say that the sound of the album is a combination of everybody’s sound. Quite, the album does have a compositional quality to it and if there is a concept, it is of love, empowerment and coming of age. However, compositional quality is not an end in itself and as such, the cumulative effect is that Rose Gold is not only lacking in depth and dynamic contrast, its overall structure is also not very convincing.

In the mainstream, Shekhinah is undoubtedly casting a fresh eye. With a nicely balanced pulse and confident staging, her music is so far supple and introspective to a great degree. This comes out particularly clearly in the titular track, Different and Thirsty.

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Rose Gold has elicited strong reactions out here. Still, I am wont to point out that I will not acquiesce it out of a sense of collective benevolence. The album has not had that much of an effect on me and it falls short of outstanding.

If you pick up a copy of Diario Mali, you’ll find that it’s a track listing of ten calm and stimulating duets weaving beautifully between the virtuosity of a piano and the kora. May I say parenthetically that I cried hysterically while listening to the album? This, in my opinion, owed to what constituted its purposeful metre and primal simplicity.

Of key note is that the kora is light in intensity and as such, serves only to add timbre to pieces otherwise dominated by Einaudi. In spite of that, here’s whats this Mali Diary is all about:

It is Laissez Moi en Paix; an elegant but plaintive tune evoking a certain kind of past. I imagined the song having to do with a parting or a haunting farewell. The piece begins with a gentle murmur as the kora emerges with a sensuous bass line that is shortly after joined by the steady and disciplined structure of the piano.

Attuning to the similitude of a stream, Entre Nous (Between Us) flows quite freely with its traceries and intricacies moving about pianissimo. Depth is built only in the form of some little open textures contrasting the repeated moments and thus giving the piece an impression of muffled search lines weaving between two people.

It is the touching modulation that is upheld through Soutoukou – a melody with a certain loft that elevates it merely a state above somberness. Being one of the pieces that made me sob the most, Soutoukou seems to me to have an elegiac quality that ponders the mystery of relationships.

For a piece that fulfills itself both musically and emotionally, Chanson D’amour is one that begins with the tease of longing and ends, eight point eleven minutes later, in what love should be; tranquil, harmonious and beautiful. The melody here floats with a tender unwavering legato and the kora is it that gives this piece such a handsome edge.

To some extent, I think that Chameaux carries in its form some snippets of Ravel. It wavers giddily with an impression more ritualistic than musical; from the piece’s recurrent theme, its fixed formation and movement of chords. Nonetheless, the coexistence of these characteristics bares some rather affecting mood music.

I have a strong flavour to Ma Mère; the piece is neither festive nor celebratory but there seems to be in it a firm resolve in the way it was arranged. Where the piano creates an intimacy, the kora stands out a little better with a certain magnetic charm that cradles its flowy rhythm.

Through much of the album, Niger Blues is a pleasant surprise. The piece breaks into new territory with a melody that rises expansively. The kora’s harmonic inflections are at first reticent after which it becomes impressionistic in its evocation of a colour and a mood so subtle yet telling.

It is Mali Sajio which begins with a sweet aesthetic twist that does not give away the piece’s actual undercurrents; the best of it is yet to come. One only has to listen to a creation that weaves together an image and a winding melody in a flow that is at once beautiful and intriguing.

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Diario Mali is not a really outstanding album. Its orchestration is simple but it lacks the ingredients that make an album memorable. It may have also been blighted by the fact that the kora stands lowly in the background but perhaps that was Ludovico’s point.

As I may have mentioned a couple of times, the tracks are rousing and so the album worth listening to.

“Imagine an artist with Jaco Pastorious’s virtuosity, George Benson’s vocal fluidity, Joao Gilberto’s sense of song and harmony, all mixed up with African culture. Ladies and gentlemen, we bring you Richard Bona!” — Los Angeles Times, 2001

When I first heard of Richard Bona, I was not so particularly into the electric bass. Yet, whatever disinterest I had about this instrument was immediately dispelled by Bona’s impressive approach to his compositions. Now, I have a love affair with every inch of this bass virtuoso; his charisma, his frame and his music – a musical palette of African music imbued with hints of jazz, funk, pop and bossa nova.

Bonafied is a distinctive album that I love listening to every time and again. Besides being surprisingly tender in some instances, I also find it an intelligent interpretation of different cultures. Released in 2013 through Universal Music, Bona’s mellifluous singing is the pulse of the album. A pulse that punctuates the crowning glory of the album’s 11 tracks – an album which, notably, earned a Gold Certification.

What I find striking about Dunia E is the way it evokes a sense of peace and tranquility. With Bona on both the vocals and the bass, other instruments coax harmoniously with a control seemingly meant to lull one into a much needed repose. A certain effort is extended in transforming both Mut’Esukudu andUprising of Kindness into an excellent ensemble. Besides the bass, vocals, drums and piano, the tracks also incorporate the trumpet/accordion and a string quartet. The beautiful disposition of the string arrangement makes me smile!

For a rather obvious reason, I freely admit that I love both Akwapella and Tumba La Nyama. The former intimates at their manner of delivery where in both tracks, the music charmingly weaves between Bona’s singing and vocal percussion. The opening of Janjo La Maya struck me with its pace and impetus but what I fancy most is that its form centres around a core of three pivots – the accordion, bass and percussion. Oddly, or not so after all, the song reminds me of tango music.

There is much to admire in Mulema for it puts in mind Bona’s ability to perform across a range of instruments. Here, he is vocalizing, bassing, guitaring and balafoning. The resonance of all these cultivate and reveal a delightful acoustic magic. So does La Fille – a characterful duet with Camille that shares a subtle similarity with Mulema. On account of the bass and its level of play with rhythm, Diba La Bobe is my most favourite. I mean, there’s no time it comes on and I’ll not want to sakata my a** off! Anywise, that’s how rhythm works. It plucks our feet out for a little action.

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The tragedy is that I understand neither Douala nor French but that’s no matter. What I feel about Richard Bona now, I will feel for a long time because the indent his music has made on me can not be erased. None a title could impeach that has been earned by Bona.