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  • Oyo
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Angelique Kidjo has a beautiful voice.
Pure, powerful, unaffected and expressive.

Her new album 'Oyo' finds her mixing up
the music of her African (Beninoise) roots
with classic soul and R&B energy.

On these sixteen vibrant tracks there is hardly a wrong
step. Her glowing inner-light burns brightly throughout.

Aretha Franklin's 'Baby I Love You', a richly layered duet
with Dianne Reeves is a brilliant example of Ms Kidjo's
ability to breathe new life into a great old warhorse.

So too with her take on Curtis Mayfield's 'Move On Up'
featuring John Legend. The rattling percussion and
effervescent backing vocals lift the song up onto a
whole new level. It's like hearing it for the first time.

The cabaret ambience of 'Petite Fleur' demonstrates her
innate capacity to effortlessly squeeze every drop of
meaning from a lyric with consummate vocal integrity.

The playful jazzy rhythms and melody of 'Mbube' are
absolutely delightful. The echoes of its western
manifestation 'Wimoweh - The Lion Sleeps Tonight'
brought a long-forgotten childhood musical experience
back into vivid memory.

If 'Kelele' doesn't get your toes tapping then I'm
not quite sure what would! The song is bursting
with warm sunshine and uplifting good vibes.

Final track 'Agbalagba' is a heartfelt rendition of
a song written as a tribute to the Nigerian author
Uwem Akpan's book 'Say You're One Of Them'.
Ms Kidjo's performance is both riveting and moving.

Co-produced with her longtime friend and collaborator
Jean Hebrail 'Oyo' is a landmark recording in this
fine artist's long and distinguished career.

Magical.
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on 20 February 2010
Having discovered Angelique Kidjo a couple of years ago after snapping up "Black Ivory Soul" at a bargain price in order to satisfy my curiousity, I quickly snapped up another three discs as I fell in love with her music. The pick of these is "Oyaya", an fusion of African & Cuban music that is so eubullient that it has rarely been off my CD player. This is easily one of the most played CD's I have bought over the last few years. Since then, I have been fortunate to see her perform live.

So how does this record compare ? If anything, "Oyo" is even better than "Oyaya." This record largely consists of covers and represents a set of tunes that have mean't alot to AK when she was growing up as a young girl in Benin. Many of these tunes are immediately familiar, whether it is jazz saxophonist Sidney Bechet's "Petit Fleur" or James Brown's "Cold Sweet." There are no duff tracks on this CD and it includes some of her finest performances. The rendition of 60's soul classics "I've got dreams to remember" and "Baby I love you" (where she duets with the great Dianne Reeves) are refracted through an African sensibility, the words being translated into her native tongue and the band laying down an infectious rhythm. The same can be said of Curtis Mayfield's "Move on up" which will guarantee to have you turning the volume up on your record player. "Kelele" features the typical golden sound of the West African electric guitars and "Lokutshana Llanga" is a mash up of Indian and African music from a celebrated Bollywood film. Both of these are album highlights. For me, the stand out track, however, is the version of "Mbube", a tune that will be familiar to many under a variety of diferent titles such as "The lion sleeps tonight." Here, the band's fast and loose respect for bar lines is reminiscent of the kind of harmolodic grooves played by free jazz legend Ornette Coleman.

Needless to say, Kidjo's voice is exceptional , ranging from a purity of exquisite beauty to full on, Cootie Williams like growls. The band, which features several jazz musicians such as bassist Christian McBride and fellow Beninois guitarist Lionel Loueke, is top notch and augmented of several tracks by a horn section and a South African choir. This is very much a return to Angelqiue Kidjo's roots and is obviously a very personal recording. That it is so infectious and full of joy is a bonus.

The more I listen to this record, the more I am convinced that this is the finest record I have heard by this brilliant singer. I somewhat doubt if anyone will make a more enjoyable record this year. This is nothing short of fabulous. Easily one of one the best albums of 2010 so far.
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VINE VOICEon 1 February 2010
Discovering new music isn't just about discovering music that is exactly that but about discovering bands or artists who may have been around a fair while but for whatever reason haven't crossed your path yet. Such is the case for me with Angelique Kidjo .On buying her new album Oyo and doing a bit of research on this excellent singer I have discovered that she has been recording since 1990 ( though she released an album in Africa only prior to this ) and has in fact released ten albums , including a Best Of in 2001The Best of Angelique Kidjo: Keep on Moving .
Better late than never as the cliché goes and it certainly is better for me because this is a terrific album full of spirit , verve and empathy but done with a wide variety of styles incorporating soul ,jazz , traditional African music with little iridescent splashes of pop , gospel , and even a fizz of Bollywood.
There are cover of Aretha Franklin's "Baby I Love You", Curtis Mayfield's "Move On Up" Santana's "Samba Pati.", Otis Redding's "I've Got Dreams To Remember " and James Browns "Cold Sweat " all which are given a rich inventive interpretation . Produced by Angelique and Jean Hebrail, the album was arranged with the contribution of Beninese guitar player Lionel Loueke who provides the album with a plethora of spindly but twinkling arrangements and hot licks- just listen to "Dil Main Chuppa Ke Pyar Ka" for proof .
There are guest spots for John Legend and Dianne Reeves but the real star of the show is of course Angelique Kidjo herself who has a wonderful voice. She can sing with crystal clear clarity on "Kelie " or come over the sultry chanteuse on "Petite Fleur " or give it the full on soul diva treatment on "Cold Sweat " . The vocal interpretation of John Barry's theme for Out Of Africa perfectly reflects the artists intention to articulate the nostalgia she feels for the country ( Benin ) she had to leave in the early 1980,s.There are even two worthwhile bonus tracks to enjoy - the complex harmonies of "You Can Count on Me " or the proud and stately ballad "Agbalagba"
Ojo is a great album and is the first new album I have bought in 2010 which means I have got off to a cracking start. And like I said I have discovered a new artist with an opulent back catalogue to explore. Could be expensive but should be a tremendously enjoyable life enriching experience -all the things great music can be in other words.
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on 3 March 2010
Having been seduced by Angelique's earlier works (especially Fifa and Oremi), with the release of Oyo I felt it was time to remake her acquaintance. Sadly, I found this latest work to be instantly forgettable. Whilst maintaining the excellent production values, superb recording, vocals and backing musicians, it contained none of the energy, verve, intensity and emotion that captured my ears and imagination in some of her her earlier works. In fact, I found it soporific and unengaging, with not one memorable track. I can imagine it serving well as background music in a cafe or coffee shop, but cannot recommend it for serious listening; except, perhaps, for ardent fans who have followed her career closely. Certainly it is not the work that I would suggest for those seeking an introduction to this highly talented vocalist and her equally impressive cavalcade of collaborators.
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on 19 September 2010
Fantastic album, saw Angelique Kidjo perform live in France, what a great voice. Came home and found her album on Amazon. Why do we not hear about her in Britain? Will soon need a new copy as this will be worn out!
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on 3 July 2014
Angelique is the new love in my life. Her disc 'Eve' was great but 'Oyo' is phenominal. The tracks are an eclectic mix from ethnic through to modern jazz. Beautiful is the only word needed!!!!
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on 10 November 2013
Have always loved Angelique Kidjo's music and this is another brilliant album of her songs. Started by hearing Agolo and grew from there.
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