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The Unsinkable Mali Sound; Super Rail Band, Traore Ride a West African Groove
[FINAL Edition]
The Washington Post - Washington, D.C.
Subjects: Popular music; Musical recordings -- Super Rail Band
Author: Gonzalez, Fernando
Date: Jul 11, 2001
Start Page: C.05
Section: STYLE

Sometimes the sweetness may be deceiving. In "Silandie," the bouncy groove and delicate guitar textures belie a bitter lament about fratricidal African wars (the singing is in Bambara, a Manding language, but lyrics are provided in French and English). Also, updating the ancient Manding tradition of praise singing, the group pays tribute to women ("Kanou Sale"), marriage ("Fourou Kolon") and hard work ("Dounia").

In "Macire" (Indigo), [Singer Boubacar Traore] sings with a sturdy, resonant voice, accompanying himself on acoustic guitar and supported by a discreet ensemble featuring light percussion, guitar, balafon and violin. Traore sings most of his repertoire in Bambara and some in French (brief summaries are provided in French and English), and words become abstracted into sounds and voices into wind instruments. Layers of meaning are no doubt lost, but Traore is an expressive singer who uses his guitar as his second voice and counterpoint. The desolation of "Tunga Magni," a song about migrant workers, is unmistakable.

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