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4.6 out of 5 stars
Beautiful Africa
Format: MP3 Download|Change

TOP 100 REVIEWERVINE VOICEon 13 April 2013
Malian singer/songwriter Rokia Traore has an immediately recognisable
voice. It demands instant attention with its rich, slightly raspy vibrato
and smokey tone. John Parish (long time collaborator with P J Harvey)
is a terrific choice of producer for her collection of nine new songs.
The stage he sets is uncluttered and transparent. Ms Traore's authoritative
performances sit comfortably at the heart of these deliciously limpid
arrangements for jangly guitars, crisp percussion and tight backing vocals.

Things kick off wonderfully well with the slinky groove of 'Lalla', a
laid-back but upbeat confection full of silver, mercurial guitar lines
and the trembling words packed in tight together like sardines in a tin.
'Sikey', too, rattles along gamely on the back of some devilishly tricky beats
and sharply pointed harmonic punctuation marks. 'Ka Moun Ke' delivers
some of the project's prettiest and most affecting melodic ideas and the
stripped-down, almost minimalist, rhythmic structure of 'N'Teri' provides a
platform for Ms Traore's voice to burn with quiet intensity and beautifully
restrained passion. It is perhaps her finest moment in this engaging work.

Simplicity, economy and not a little magic combine to make 'Beautiful Africa'
one of the loveliest recordings we will be lucky enough to befriend this year.

Highly Recommended.
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on 16 May 2013
She is a great and brave talented artist. I think that the most impressive thing in her is her musical ability is to do some kind of crossover music through her African roots. The music is Malian with an distinct Western edge. Usually, these type of records are made the other way around being producer not artist based. Great work and development after the previous, also an excellent record.
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on 23 December 2013
This is probably my favourite album of 2013. Rokia has created her own unique and highly sophisticated style, using the controlled power of her voice to pour emotion into her wonderfully poetic lyrics, complemented by the tight sound of her band. The accompanying booklet gives english translations of each song, revealing the high quality of the lyrics, although it's hardly necessary for 'Mélancolie' since her french is so clear. The opening couplet is exquisite: 'Mélancolie danse avec moi/À la belle cadence de mes rêves de joie.' Not that you need to understand her words to appreciate her enchanting voice and infectious energy. Based on the strength of this album, I went to see Rokia perform at the Royal Festival Hall in London. She was fantastic, putting in even more oomph than in the studio: everyone was exhorted to get up and dance as she took apart and reconstructed 'Tuit Tuit'. 'Kouma' and 'Beautiful Africa' were especially good live, although every track is a highlight. I reckon she has won a lot of new fans with this album, and deservedly so. Buy the album, and then, if you can, get tickets to see her live.
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on 30 August 2014
There is much to like on Rokia's 5th release. The sound is less obviously Malian, which seems to be a feature of the way Rokia's music is developing. There are one or two embarrassing moments, listen to the title track with it's teenage tantrum, or petulant rock star feel. Rokia is capable of much greater things.

Generally this is a wonderful step for a very independent singer songwriter. The ngoni provides the most obvious link to traditional Malian music with some great drumming by the big haired one from Polar Bear - he never overpowers things, leaving lots of space but can fire it out every now and then, when needed. There are some delicate backing vocals, good bass and pleasingly subtle electric guitars.

The last time I saw Rokia live it was a pretty disastrous occasion with Rokia getting close to becoming some kind of African variety act playing Fela Kuti and Miriam Makeba covers. Luckily this album is a much more complex and nuanced listen. Whether you've come from listening to Malian music or if you've stumbled across her from the John Parish and Sebastian Rochford side I think this is going to work for everyone. It's a Really good album. I recommend all Rokia's previous albums - start with her last release Tchamantche for a similar vibe and work your way back. Don't miss the collaboration with the Kronos Quartet on Bowmboi.
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on 1 June 2013
A bit more up beat than her last 2 cd's (which are also about as good as music gets). It has hardly left my stereo in the last few weeks and it still sounds great.
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on 16 May 2013
Another Masterpiece From Rokia.

This album is magic, the first time I listened it I was driving through England but I did actually travelled trough Africa.
I've just discovered her voice with Mouneissa and I quickly bought the others albums.
Her first album have the power to clutch to one's soul, and from there to "Beautiful Africa" is a crescendo of inspirational power.

Is a shame that Bowmboi is not available in the UK in MP3 format.
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on 20 May 2013
Three or four great songs here, and the rest is good too. Somewhat different sound to the record form here last couple of CDs, the guitar defines the sound, rather than the acoustic, traditional sounds of her previous stuff.

The title track is the weakest
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on 1 May 2013
A lovely album, more than met my expectations after first catching the singer perform on Later... with Jools Holland.

If you love modern West African music, this album should be in your collection.
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on 28 May 2013
Very inspiring Album and a joy to listen to, well recorded and produced, well worth seeing live if you get the opportunity, introduced a few of my friends to Rokia Traoré, excellant Band and backing singers.
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on 14 May 2013
The voice, the timing and the complex rythm's are just enthralling. The musicians who accompany her are also fantastic. I shall have to listen to some of her earlier works.
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