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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Stunning debut by Africa's latest star, 30 Dec 2011
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This review is from: Fatou (Audio CD)
Joyful and reflective in equal measure, Fatou is a superb debut album by this hugely talented Paris-based Malian sensation. My album of the year for 2011, first impressions were confirmed when seeing her at London's Jazz Cafe. Fatoumata Diawara is simply superb - soulful vocals, delicate and intricate guitar playing, backed up by rythmic percussion - the album has everything. From the beautiful, reflective tracks, Wilile and Clandestin, to the catchy dance tracks, Bakonoba and Bissa (single from the album), this album has something for everyone who loves African music. Highly recommended
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23 of 24 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fatoumata Diawara - "The most beguiling talent to hit the world music scene in some time", 14 Oct 2011
By 
Red on Black - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (TOP 50 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Fatou (Audio CD)
The autumn leaves are falling, you go to work in the dark and return in the dark and the winter chill seems poised to enter our lives. Why not therefore get a final blast of summer before the permafrost descends by purchasing this vibrant feast of Malian music from the brilliant Fatoumata Diawara who recently stole the show on Jools Holland. Hailing from Southern Mali and singing in her native Wassoulou language, Diawara determined to make it as an actress in Paris but found that the draw of music proved a far stronger primal urge. The loss to the Thespian profession is music lovers massive gain since "Fatou" is a stunning record full of colour, verve, rhythm and excitement. It is one of the best African music LPs you will hear but it is also much more than that. The swirling melodic guitars of this record combined with the multilayered vocals show a real soul/funk sensibility at work combined with lyrics which we are told pulse with the concerns of social justice not least denouncing arranged marriage and female circumcision. What some might see as a language barrier in terms of lyrical understanding actually adds to the sheer beauty of the record since it makes for an entrancing backdrop and the musical force of the songs carries all in their wake.

The laid-back funky opener "Kanou" is a fine start with its hypnotic vocal and pulsating bass interwoven with gentle acoustic guitar lines which dance around the song like a summer breeze. The second song in is "Sowa" which is irresistible and hugely commercial, indeed it is surprising that Western singers are resisting the temptation to draw inspiration from this deep well. One song which might just be the "first amongst equals" in album of standouts is "Bakonoba" which David Byrne would have died to record in Talking Heads and which draws in music from across the Atlantic in terms of the intoxicating mix branded with the label AfroCubism. It is utterly infectious and the African guitar playing the best this side of Tinarwaren . The mood quietens for the sumptuous guitar ballad "Alama" which was such as show-stopper on Jools Holland where you can see the elegant Diawara in all her glory. Another song "Willie" also plays to the more tender side of Diawara and the sheer emotion and range of Fatoumata Diawara's voice demonstrates a force of nature at work. The good old Daily Telegraph has described Diawara as "the most beguiling talent to hit the world music scene in some time". On the evidence of the entirety of "Fatou" and songs such as the brilliant closer "Clandestin" we are seeing yet another music artist from Mali poised for world domination which would be just reward for one of 2011's best albums.

PS Can I thank One more opinion for pointing out a silly typo in this original review posting.
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35 of 37 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful debut......, 19 Sep 2011
This review is from: Fatou (Audio CD)
This debut album is truly delightful. Combining lovely melodies with strong, simple rhythms, delicate guitar-playing and striking vocals, Fatoumata Diawara marks herself out as a rising star of modern Malian singer-songwriters. There are serious messages to a number of her songs (the lyrics are translated in the extensive liner notes), including Bissa (arranged marriage) and Boloko (female circumcision), but there is just as much of the bright & playful side of Fatou on Bakonoba and her ode to love - Kanou. The album has been beautifully produced, as you would expect from World Circuit, and that allows Fatou & her songs to simply shine.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good but ......................, 16 July 2012
By 
Ian Thumwood "ian17577" (Winchester) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Fatou (Audio CD)
Fatoumata Diawara was an entirely new name to me until I heard her play live with her group at this year's Jazz a Vienne festival and then appear as a backing singer in Bela Fleck's African project. Performing live, Diawara immediately grabbed the attention of the audience with a her wonderful voice and she had most people up and dancing, despite the mid-day heat, well before the set had reached any sort of climax. Her band were superb and the combination of her blightly coloured clothes and exuberant dancing ensured guaranteed that her set was a memorable spectacle. Difficult to be anything less than enthusiastic about this performer in these circumstances.

Listening to this CD, however, it is difficult not to be slightly disappointed as good as it is. The excitement of the live performance is replaced with more reflective material with lyrics that reflect socially charged subjects. Compared to the anodine dross served up by the woeful Melody Gardot who also performed live at the festival, this is most demonstrably "real" music. Although my main passion is jazz, I love singers such as Angelique Kidjo and this record doesn't quite have the range of styles or moods that the Beninoise is capable of. It is less "commercial" and refuses to tip it's hat towards even Western pop or jazz in the way that Kidjo is able to - the older woman perhaps being a more sophisticated performer in a number of styles. The music is extremely well played and there are moments "Bakanoba" where the music captures the live experience but this is a more restrained effort overall and a bit more reflective than her performance on stage would suggest. Many of the themes have a snakey feel to them with the melodic lines twisting and turning over the odd-meters . If there is a problem, it is the lack of diversity with most pieces being of the same medium tempo gait but the CD is very pleasant none-the-less.

In summary, this is a CD that grows on you with repeated listening but doesn't quite match up to the shear joy of hearing Fatoumata perform live. Easily one of the most pleasing new discoveries in performance for me in 2012.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars music for the soul, 29 Oct 2011
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This review is from: Fatou (Audio CD)
I first saw Fatoumata Diawara on Jools Hollands Later and immediately ordered the album.
I was not disappointed - it is a beautifully simple and calming album which whilst not too demanding of the listener has depth and longevity.
My 6 and 8 year old daughters love it too!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant!, 18 July 2013
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This review is from: Fatou (MP3 Download)
I have had this on constantly since I got it yesterday, about 6 times (back to back) so far. Really enjoyable, just sad that it has taken me so long to find out about her.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Infectious, 21 May 2013
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This review is from: Fatou (Audio CD)
This music plants the African landscape in your imagination and invites you to party in it. This is a lovely upbeat collection of exquisitely played guitar based songs.
She has a beautiful resonant voice with a tonal quality that matches her guitar, and with which she delivers strong melody embellished with intricate decoration - but with tasteful restraint.
I defy you to listen to it and not be humming the songs repeatedly afterwards.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful music with a beautiful voice, 12 Jan 2014
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This review is from: Fatou (MP3 Download)
If you like African music then you will greatly enjoy Fatou. If you are new to this genre then it is a good place to start. I feel very fortunate to have had a great deal of exposure to African music over the years and have attained a real appreciation for it. Stand out tracks on this album are Kanou, Sowa, Kele and Bissa, however all tracks are beautiful. Strongly recommended
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5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant, 20 Dec 2013
By 
J. Williamson "msjwkb" (North Wales) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
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This review is from: Fatou (Audio CD)
I saw her on the BBC Glastonbury set. Very impressed. Checked her out on Youtube, and bought the album. So good. The music is surprisingly calming considering the subjects of the lyrics.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Fatou, 16 Sep 2013
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This review is from: Fatou (Audio CD)
A lovely mellow piece of work - very easy on the ear & none too adventurous but a welcome addition to my world music collection
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