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Soô - Habib Koite

4.0 out of 5 stars 2 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Audio CD (10 Mar. 2014)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Contre Jour
  • Other Editions: MP3 Download
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 111,094 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)
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Product Description

Product Description

Habib Koité's most recent album was his acclaimed partnership with American blues maestro Eric Bibb, and he has worked for the past few years with Oliver Mutukudzi and Afel Bocoum on the Acoustic Africa project, but it has been seven years since the great Malian guitarist has released an album of his own. It is with real delight then that Contre Jour present this thrilling new addition to Habib's discography. Habib sings in a number of languages, reflecting the diversity of his homeland, but his dextrous guitar work is a constant and his band provide superb backing on these eleven tracks. At times pensive, a reaction to recent events in Mali, but for the most part enchanting, stimulating and uplifting, with songs on topics ranging from love and football, to FGM, the plight of Mali, and quaffing tequila in Los Angeles... Habib perfectly incarnates what Mali is today: a vast multicultural land that yearns for peace and understanding.


Top of the World selection in Songlines magazine. Perhaps it was recording 2012's Brothers in Bamako with the American bluesman Eric Bibb that persuaded Habib Koite it was time for a change; but for whatever the reason, after more than 20 years and half a dozen albums backed by his band Bamada, only bassist Abdul Berthe remains on Soo. It's more than a simple change of personnel, too. He's dropped the drum kit in favour of calabash and djembé and added a banjo to the line-up - an instrument that he was introduced to by Bibb. The result is a lilting set sung in his smooth baritone voice in Malinke, Bamana and Dogon, mixing different Malian traditions and addressing many of the problems currently facing his country. The context of the gently melancholic 'Deme', with its message about living together in peace could not be clearer, given Mali's recent history. 'Need You' is about forced marriage; 'Khafole,' despite its gorgeous lullaby-like melody, is a tragic song about a mother grieving for her dead son. The closer, 'Diadjiry', a song about war and its horrors made famous by Fanta Damba, is played as a sparkling solo guitar piece and reminds us that Habib is one of Africa's most accomplished instrumentalists. The changes have done Habib no end of good. --Songlines

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Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
Another fine album from this Malian bluesman. Try anything from his back catalogue as all his albums are good.

Here the sound is very polished and smooth but does have an authentic feel. Habib's voice is not one of those big Malian voices, it fits nicely with his acoustic guitar playing. He sings in a variety of different Malian languages: Malinke, Dogon, Khassonke, Bambara, also one track with some English, and another with the universal sound of the whistle! The album is mainly acoustic, there are some keyboards but they fit really well, never overwhelming the sound.

Toumani Diabate plays kora and Bassekou Kouyate n'goni on one track called Terere. The musicians are great throughout - very nice backing vocals, with a banjo on some tracks. The feeling is generally quite laid back with the occasional track having more percussion, for example the faster paced 'Diarabi Niani' or 'Balon tan' which also has a bit of rap. 'LA' is a different version to the one played on Habib's last album with Eric Bibb, it's a song celebrating Tequila!

There's a lovely gentle instrumental track to end the album.
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Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
Another one of those random purchases made after hearing a track on a sampler/compilation CD with a magazine - it must have been Songlines or fRoots. Anyway, I was suitably impressed and decided to take the plunge. No regrets! This is a fantastic record.
World music is often infused with optimism, and this is no different, but the sonorous tenor vocals of Habib and his thoughtful and often introspective songwriting style are far more subtle than I have come to associate with the music of Africa. Of particular note are the glorious female vocal harmonies that are infused with real depth and beauty.
Habib has clearly listened to a lot of Western roots music (he even plays banjo on many of the tracks), but he doesn't try to emulate it - instead infusing touches of familiar Western musical sensibilities to his own template. I love that. And he really knows how to write a good hookline, too! Score: 4.3/5
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) HASH(0x89c9da0c) out of 5 stars 10 reviews
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x8b618054) out of 5 stars Malian Paradox: Mellowness and Driving Rhythms 17 May 2014
By Dr. Debra Jan Bibel - Published on
****1/2. Habib Koité's smooth, calming voice against a background of driving beats and Malian and Western instrumental timbres make this album joyous listening. His famous supporting musicians are Toumani Diabaté, kora harp, and Bassekou Kouyate, n'goni lute. Also heard are, on bass guitar, Abdoul Wahib Berthe, Issa Kone playing banjo (a return of the instrument to its origin) and acoustic guitar, Mama Kone on calabash, djbembe, and other percussion, Yase Kone on bala xylophones, and several vocalists. Even the audio engineers get into the act, playing keyboards and synthesizer. The album includes a largely instrumental track based on a woman's lament of the death of her child, and another tune in English, which I find out of place. Track 10, Balan Tan has a touch of rap by "Master Soumi," in a song about soccer. Habib Koité goes solo on the final track. Malian music is diverse and rich, and Habib Koité is among its many stars as composer, guitarist, and singer. Soô, meaning home and by extension homeland and community, is a gentle patriotic appreciation of the once again united and peaceful nation.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x89adb30c) out of 5 stars Another fine album from Habib Koite 29 July 2014
By islander - Published on
Format: Audio CD
Habib Koite is an excellent Malian singer, songwriter and guitarist. "Soo" follows three superb albums that he recorded along with a backing band, Bamada: Maya, Baro and Afriki. The last of these came out in 2007 (though he did a duet album with American blues guitarist Eric Bibb in 2012). I've long been awaiting his next solo album and "Soo" doesn't disappoint.
On Soo, Koite dispenses with Bamada, but the backing musicians on the album still provide great accompaniment, with bass guitar, keyboards, various percussion (though no drums as such) and even the appearance of Toumani Diabate (kora) and Bassekou Kouyate (ngoni) one one song. However, Koite's own mellow voice and fantastic playing is foremost. One notable difference from his previous albums is the inclusion of a banjo in some songs. I must admit, this took some getting used to. Some guest rap vocals on one song are also mildly jarring. However, these are minor gripes as overall it is a very good album.
Nine of ten songs are sung in various Malian languages, with one sung in English. There is a fine instrumental track to finish the album. Album liner notes contain song lyrics in English and French, and some background notes about Habib in English, French, Spanish and German. Most of the songs are slower and fairly laid back, with a couple of faster, more upbeat numbers.
As with all his previous work, this album is full of beautiful music - great songs, great musicianship and fine singing. I can't stop listening to it! If you like any of his earlier albums, or west African music that blends traditional and Western influences in general, you should enjoy this.
2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x898828d0) out of 5 stars Habib is, in my opinion, the premier African musician 29 Jun. 2014
By Gary Hill - Published on
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
I have all of Habib Koite's albums; and this is one of the best! Hearing his album is a treat, seeing his shows in person expands the appreciation of his talents! I would tell my friends to buy this album and see him the next time he's in NYC.
HASH(0x898f2438) out of 5 stars Habib Koite RULES!!!! 22 Aug. 2014
By Atieno - Published on
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
All of Habib Koite's albums or discs are GREAT! He is an amazing artist that never disappoints. This new disc includes some new musicians in his band & also female back-up singers like on Afriki album. Another great one!
1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x8b618bd0) out of 5 stars Hooray! Another great album from Habib Koite 9 April 2014
By Printprof - Published on
Verified Purchase
Truth in advertising: I am a big fan of Habib Koite's music--and of the music and art of Mali in general.

This is a very fine set of pieces. I really love the fact that Koite combines pure instrumental pieces with the vocal ones. It makes his albums much more interesting because there is variety in the work. He can do this because he and his band are such gifted musicians both as singers and players of various instruments.

At least one of the songs in this album also appears in another album Koite made in collaboration with the American blues & folk musician, Eric Bibb. (L.A.) The version on Soo sounds different, though--almost like a different piece in its rhythms.
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