Dieneba Seck - The Truth
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Dieneba Seck
The Truth
Stern's Africa (www.sternsmusic.com)

cd cover Those smitten by the Malian roots music of such singers as Oumou Sangare and Rokia Traore will hear a familiar ring to Dieneba Seck's The Truth. The album's angular rhythms, keening vocals, prominent use of n'goni lute and clacking percussion tread familiar ground. Even so, the disc is a winner, a crackling mix of liveliness and pensiveness that doesn't let the fact that it was produced in the gloss of a Paris studio cancel out its authenticity. Well, almost. The title track, though it extols such worthwhile values as honesty and loyalty, is a disposable piece of fluff with a stiff, canned arrangement that thankfully bears no resemblance to any other song here.
So skip that one and enjoy the rest, including the insistent call-and-response vocals and tart soukou violin of "Foulbe," the immediate guitar/flute/djembe lock-up that paves the way for Seck's sweet wail of a voice on the opening "Niteke Nela" and how cunningly she graces a song like "Santa," letting sizable passages of acoustic groove pass by between the verses. Guitarist/arranger Sekou Kouyate and producer/engineer Yves Ndjock obviously deserve a lot of the credit for how well this is all crafted. The two bring out the best in Seck, who started out as an actor in her Malian homeland before making her name with the 1991 pro-democracy anthem "Kankeletigui." The Truth shows just how much punch West African music based on almost entirely traditional elements can pack. In a smartly realized combination of strong singing, strong songs and sympathetic production, it rings true. - Tom Orr

CD available from cdRoots

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