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Maciré Sylla
Maya Irafama
Trace (

Maciré Sylla is a young Guinean woman singer, backed here by an Afro-European band and recorded in Switzerland. Maya Irafama is at times an intriguing album, though at its best is vaguely reminiscent of other international African stars. This is due in part to the similarity of Sylla's voice to that of superdiva Angelique Kidjo, most evident on the opener, "Dariono," which borrows (quite well) the distinctive driving bass drum and staccato guitar lines so often used by the Beninoise star.
The lurking similarity may also be due to the frequent appearance of the Fulani flute, pioneered in pop form by Senegalese Baaba Maal whose Fulani ethnic roots are strong in Guinea as well. The second song, "Wombere," seems cut in the mold of a Maal dance number, combining as it does this flute work with a pounding bass line and peppery (though subdued) percussion and some delicate Mande guitar riffs. The best piece, perhaps, is "Dié," a reggae-inspired number that recalls not so much the big continental stars, but a version of reggae that is characteristic of versatile working African bands: smooth, deep, and clean without being superficial, and graced with a quiet confidence.

On other pieces the pernicious influence of generic arrangement and production that haunt much work out of nearby Paris are evident; Sylla's voice withers over these soulless tracks. Without sounding overly negative about the album as a whole, the packaging is not the most informative; listeners receive brief synopses of the lyrics of four of the songs, a list of players, and inside the folding CD liner, a color photo of Sylla. Hopefully, Sylla and Trace will build on this promising start and push to deliver even more original music. - Craig Tower

Audio: "Wombere"
© 2001 COD Music Publishing/SUISA (
Used by permission

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