5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
This is not original in the sense that Taj Mahal and Ry Cooder have both recorded with African musicians to explore the roots of the blues in West African music but Eric Bibb and Habib Koite are such a great fit - their guitars and voices blending perfectly like they have been playing together for years.
The emphasis here is on Eric's gospel side and 'Touma Ni Kelen/Needed time' is Eric's signature song combined with exotic West African sounds. As usual Eric is in great voice throughout but Habib Koite also has a wonderful voice and is also a great guitar and banjo player, check out the Malian trance blues 'Foro Bana'. 'On My Way to Bamako' is a gentle original song to start the record describing Eric's first visit to West Africa while 'We Don't Care' is a comment on worldwide commercialism - "We want the gold, as long as we don't have to mine it, don't care who suffers or who's behind it". This is a really nice record which successfully blends the two traditions and has both men singing and playing in perfect harmony - the respect between the two is plainly evident.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on 25 November 2012
If calm and melodic ruminations on the world's woes can provide a musically palliative cure, we should gag our rants and stifle our moans to allow this record the aural space to gently work its magic. That would be the sweet dream anyway.
Habib Koite and Eric Bibb merge their respective West African [Mali] and American [Finland!] roots music with a gentle glue that adheres melody and acoustic guitar/banjo playing to beautiful effect. On the opening two tracks, each artists shares a geographical as well as cultural exchange with Bibb's first 'On My Way To Bamako' and Koite's second 'L.A.' - a musical mission statement on partnership and sharing [with Koite singing in French so I'm not entirely sure what the cultural celebration is, apart from an English expression of enjoying five shots of tequila that 'make me happy'!].
They literally first join on third track 'Touma Ni Kelen/Needed Time' which is gorgeous, both picking guitars - folk blues and flamenco - and accompanied by percussive African rhythms and sounds. Tracks 'We Don't Care' and 'Send Us Brighter Days' present their concern for the world's self-indulgences and greed and therefore the need for a better way, the latter a slow blues with the sweetest harmonising. The whole album rests - perhaps too comfortably for some - in this peaceful and meditative mood. Indeed, the twelfth track is a rather soporific version of 'Blowin' In The Wind' where the famous narrative does fit that reflective disposition but it is a little too slow and misses the rhetorical pace inherent in its lyrics.
So if you are wide awake and can steel yourself against the soothing sound, or alternatively you need to chill, this has thirteen tracks to comfort and please with ease.