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  • SEYA
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on 23 February 2009
This album may well turn out to be the African album of the year - Oumou's voice is incredibly strong & soulful and the record is perfectly constructed - let it build and you will be entranced by the end. The sleeve notes and translations will tell you exactly what she is singing about, but in many ways the music speaks for itself....whether you are a new listener to Malian music or someone who is familiar with Oumou's previous albums, there is no way you will regret buying this record!
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on 29 April 2009
Seya is the first album in six years for Malian singer Oumou Sangare and it's been well worth the wait. This is a very solid, passionate and uncompromising album, full of strong persuasive vocals and chunky rhythms, with seriously creative arrangements played by a mighty talented backing band.

Many African albums are influenced by Western sounds, with varying degrees of success, but Oumou Sangare has retained the traditional sound and feel of her homeland. No cheesy synths or guitars here, but gutsy rootsy sounds that reach out and grab the listener from beginning to end.

On this album as on others she sings about taboo subjects like polygamy, under-aged forced marriage, sensual love and the role of women in African society. Clearly she has a strong sense of values and that strength pervades this very confident and soulful album.

The funky Wassoulou sound, recorded in Bamako, arranged and produced by Cheikh Tidiane Seck (who must know just about everyone in the African music industry) is sophisticated and intricate so there is depth and joy ("Seya") on many levels.
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on 10 July 2009
This is a fabulous album, so musically rich, vocally, instrumentally and lyrically; the production is superb. Savour it and allow it's beauties to unfold. We have been fortunate this year in that two Malian divas have released albums, Rokia Traore with Tchamantche and now this, Seya by Oumou Sangare, each different styles, each excellent.

This is Oumou Sangare's fifth release including the Oumou compilation from 2004. She has been praised as The Songbird of Wassoulou, this being the style of music which developed from ancient hunting songs and is associated with the Wasulu region south of the Niger. On this album Oumou writes her own material, some based upon traditional songs, but make no mistake, this is modern music with modern themes.

In her songwriting she assumes the responsibility of her position, as she sees it, by using lyrics to address complex and traditional social issues such as the forced marriages of young girls, emigration, family unity, hope and support within the community and general respect for women. Indeed the song Koundaya is about using God given luck well, as though she reminds herself to do so. The lyrics are rich with metaphor, morality tales, proverbs and local sayings. I imagine that Oumou might have some resistance within her community from conservative elements.

Although the lyrics may appear weighty, the overriding impression is one of joy and hope. Seya itself means Joy. The music is exuberant with both male and female call and response, buoyant and colourful with a mix of traditional and modern instrumentation, and above all Oumou's supple, muscular voice sweeps, soars, dives and punctuates. It is a rhythmic vehicle, as well as melodic, unforced and natural.

She is accompanied by 49 musicians over the 11 tracks, including Pee Wee Ellis, Tony Allen, Cheick Tidiane Seck and Bassekou Kouyate, and the blend of the traditional n'goni, balafon, flutes and percussive instruments with organ, guitar, sax and trombone is organic, not ornate, vibrant but not jarring.

The CD is attractively packaged and includes English and French lyrics with an explanation of each song, although not Oumou's singing tongue(s), however you can easily enjoy the music without following the lyrics. If you are new to African music this is an excellent starting point. Mali is blessed with rich music from it's cultural diversity; there are 32 ethnic groups. If you wish to delve further into the variety which Mali offers I suggest you try the following, mainly recent, releases:
the late Ali Farka Toure - Savanne, Talking Timbuktoo (with Ry Cooder),
Rokia Taore - Bowmboi, or the latest Tchamantche,
Salif Keita - The Mansa of Mali....A Retrospective, or Moffou,
Bassekou Kouyate and N'goni Ba - Segu Blue
Toumani Diabate - In the Heart of The Moon (with Ali Farka Toure), The Mande Variations
Amadou & Miriam - the popular Dimanche A Bamako (produced by Manu Chao), or their latest Welcome To Mali (I haven't heard it yet, but it had good reviews),
or the desert blues band Tinariwen - Aman Iman: Water Is Life, or Amassakoul.

These are all differing styles and all appealing, and this is just Mali! To delve further into 'world music' check out Songlines (with free CD of sample tracks from recent releases) or fRoots (also with CD) magazines and/or the Rough Guide books called World Music. There is a whole world of music waiting to enrich your life; enjoy!!
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on 12 September 2009
'SEYA', meaning 'joy', Oumou Sangaré's new CD, is a delight to listen to. You can also dance to it! In the title song her a warm and even seductive voice celebrates her Mali audiences and fans who she has been entertaining for many years. The eleven songs have a common feel, yet are also quite distinct. A treasure to have and play over and over again.

For me, with SEYA Oumou has reached new heights in musical excellence. While she has continuously performed in Mali since her last CD, Oumou, and also produced a CD for the local market only, we have had to wait six years for a new recording. It was worth the wait for sure! Internationally, Oumou Sangaré had moved into the spotlight and become a household name for Mali music since 1989 with her CDs 'Moussoulou', Ko Sira, and Worotan(1996), my favourite among the earlier recordings.

Oumou is one of the best known female voices and artists from Mali. She brought Wassoulou music to the international stage. The distinct Wassoulou sound comes from a ethnic region that spans part of South western Mali and neighbouring regions in Guinea and Ivory Coast. The tunes are rooted in traditional griot music, often performed by strong female voices, such as Oumou Sangaré and carrying social messages. Oumou Sangaré, like many other Malian vocal musicians in the 'griot' tradition, takes her popularity as a responsibility to raise social concerns, in particular concerning women, such as forced marriages, polygamy, the need for harmony in domestic partnerships as well as respect for elders and community solidarity.

Staying true to her musical style and addressing the important social themes that have always been her preoccupation, the music is also innovative, vibrant and affecting. Her voice has matured and is even richer than before. For this collection, she has assembled an impressive team of backup performers and vocalists, complementing harmoniously her often soft and gentle voice. In partnership with Cheikh Tidiane Seck, who arranged some of the pieces, she has produced a really exquisite album. [Friederike Knabe]
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on 2 June 2009
Oumou Sangare, the African diva, the beautiful songstress with the sublime voice....has once again produced a beautiful album, joyful, a gem...
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on 15 August 2013
A brilliant album. The best I have heard from Oumou Sangare. The originality of the sounds and lyrics just set it apart from most of the trash we are being subjected to. Keep it up.
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on 16 November 2009
One of the best Afro-Jazz albums of the year. I rate it in the same breath as DKR's Kudakwashe/Munyaradzi, Rassie Ai's Return to Life and Chiwoniso's Rebel Woman.

Brilliant!
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on 24 February 2009
Oumou Sangare is right up there amongst the best African singers. Her voice is strong and beautiful and Mali's Wassolou sound is almost uniquely attractive amongst African music styles. Her previous album Oumou was a true classic and a worldwide hit. It's been a wait of many years for this next album recorded in Bamako but it's just as good. Anyone who enjoys African music should add this recording to their collection.
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on 28 October 2014
lovely music to work to, great price, well produced
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on 24 October 2015
loev it, swift delivery
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