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Amadou & Mariam - Welcome To Mali (Nonesuch)

It’s been stated Amadou & Mariam produce not “world music” but “music for the world”. This is mildly cliché but very true. Welcome to Mali supplies proof. The album is their fifth recorded in studio and continues Amadou & Mariam’s gradual merging of traditional Malian music and European electronica, alongside blues riffs. The first track, ‘Sabali’, crackles open with quiet lyrics, followed by quick ukulele notes before Mariam’s voice pours in with simplicity; her singing is traditional yet tweaked with a synthesizer. It’s irrelevant she sings in French; the instruments her meaning absorb. ‘Bozos’ and ‘I Follow You’ are similarly strong. Welcome to Mali is intensely optimistic. Amadou & Mariam’s fifth album deserves repeated play.