Djeneba & Fousco | Kayeba Khasso

ARTIST: Djeneba & Fousco
TITLE: Kayeba Khasso
LABEL: Lusafrica

Djeneba Kouyate and Fousseyni (Fousco) Sissoko are both descendents of griot families from Mali’s Kayes region. Djeneba became a star by winning the Toukangoura competition (think Malian Idol) in 2010, Fousco won it in 2011, they became musical collaborators shortly thereafter and married in 2012. Djeneba’s voice is an extraordinary instrument: she can be powerful and commanding while retaining intimacy and vulnerability. She’s at her best on the folky track 1 which stands with the best of modern Malian female singers like Rokia Traore and Fatoumata Diawara. Fousco is no slouch as a vocalist (listen to his lines on the lovely track 3) and he’s an all-purpose threat as a guitarist and songwriter. They don’t confine themselves to neo-traditional arrangements – 4 runs at a gallop and features a dub breakdown and jazzy soloing by lead guitarist Yacouba Kone, who is stunning throughout; 7 starts like hard-edged North Mississippi blues and breaks into a dancehall chorus a couple of times; and 8 is positively avant-garde. On their debut album, Djeneba & Fousco demonstrate that the future of Malian music is in very good hands.

TOP TRACKS: 1 3 4 7 8

Bill Lupoletti is world music director at WRIR 97.3 FM and in Richmond, Virginia, where he hosts the Global A Go-Go radio program on Wednesdays at 3 PM and writes the world music blog.

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