Album: Issa Bagayogo, Mali Koura (Six Degrees)

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The Independent Culture

This Malian maverick has been producing consistently excellent material for more than a decade now but, mystifyingly, has yet to break through here.

This, his most accessible album to date, should change that. Issa's burnished, low-key vocals function as the bridge between the flexible backbone of his rattling and rolling n'goni riffs and the lush layered horns, jazzy piano, honey-sweet backing vocals and sporadic interjections of tasteful electronica. The agreeable tension between the abrasive roots elements and the overlay of Western production values is what makes this such a resonant listen.

Pick of the Album: The gentle strut and roll of 'Sebero'