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BBC – Music – Review of Salif Keita

Written by on October 22, 2020

With Gotan Project’s Philippe Cohen Solal sitting comfortably in the producer’s seat, Talé is guaranteed to appeal to Salif Keita fans demanding dance grooves enough to get them out of theirs.

Although it’s not a particularly bold or ambitious album, Talé is nevertheless a pleasant addition to the Malian artist’s sizeable discography, stretching back to the early 1980s.

Keita perpetuates his love of traditional Manding sounds through the inclusion of Mamane Diabaté on balafon and Aboussi Cissoko on ngoni, among others.

He also resumes a longstanding ambition to move his music into the modern world – as well as connecting it with other genres and places – through his choice of guests.

The most radical and unlikely of these is the UK rapper Roots Manuva, who certainly brings his own distinctive sense of place to C’est Bon, C’est Bon.

Manu Dibango adds a hooting, elephantine sax to the spacey Après-Demain, which slows down and speeds up agreeably before dissolving into dubby effects.

For the first time, Keita has made a strong and confident link with African-American music. Grammy-winning jazz artist Esperanza Spalding and Keita develop a convincing dialogue on Cherie S’en Va.

And don’t worry, be happy that Bobby McFerrin does not sound out of place on the reggae-flavoured Simby. Lastly, Keita’s daughter Natty brings it all back home with a deceleration of love for her father on Natty.

Long-term Keita fans may be disappointed that there are no epic, dramatic ballads in the vein of, say, Soro. And there’s no real wow factor to Talé despite its star guests. But it’s a loveable enough effort.

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