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Amadou & Mariam - Folila (Review)

Amadou & Mariam, Folila

Review by Jack Foley

IndieLondon Rating: 4 out of 5

HAVING won global acclaim and support for their debut offering Welcome To Mali (which benefited from the presence of Damon Albarn), husband-and-wife team Amadou & Mariam look set to win even more friends with their follow-up Folila.

Featuring even more collaborations than their debut, this offers a mostly successful fusion of African rhythmns and chanted vocals with mainstream flourishes, whether they be dance, pop or even hip-hop inflicted.

The result is arguably more successful and more commercially appealing than Welcome To Mali, albeit sometimes tempered by the slightly repetitive nature of the African rhythmn sections driving it.

When it’s good, though, there are some really appealing songs. Lead single Dougou Badia gets things off a flying start, mixing Amadou’s sharp guitar trading works with Santigold’s magic dust, before Wily Kataso makes good use of his and her vocals, a driving rhythm and support from TV on The Radio. It has an easygoing vibe surrounding it.

Better still, Jake Shears of Scissor Sisters lends his falsetto, disco-glam style to Metemya, which is surely a future single in waiting that also offers plenty of remix potential, while Wari (featuring a beautifully bluesy set of vocals from Amp Fiddler) is another easy highlight. Indeed, on this occasion they strike a near-perfect balance between African and American influences, with the vocal trade-off working surprisingly well and a background harmonica offsetting the percussion to striking effect.

There’s a sunshine vibrancy surrounding the resolutely African licks of C’est Pas Facile Pour Les Aigles, which is a real party-starter and the breeziest, most deliriously happy track on the LP, while a trace of hip-hop and country surrounding Nebe Miro, which features good work from Theophilus London.

If some parts of the album fail to offer as seamless a fusion of styles, or are perhaps more content to honour Amadou & Mariam’s African roots, it doesn’t come to the detriment of the album.

It’s easy to see why this duo have become such global favourites as their energy and enthusiasm is genuinely infectious, while their ability to offer crossover appeal seems almost effortless.

Download picks: Dougou Badia, Metemya, Wari, Nebe Miri, C’est Pas Facile Pour Les Aigles, Cherie

Track listing:

  1. Dougou Badia
  2. Wily Kataso
  3. Oh Amadou
  4. Metemya
  5. Africa Mon Afrique
  6. C’est Pas Facile pour les Aigles
  7. Wari
  8. Sans Toi
  9. Mogo
  10. Another Way
  11. Bagnale
  12. Nebe Miri
  13. Chérie