Release Date: Jan 15, 2016
Record label: Kobalt
Genre(s): Electronic, Club/Dance, International, West African, African Traditions, Afro-Pop, Desert Blues, Senegalese Music
Senegalese singer, songwriter, and guitarist Baaba Maal hasn't recorded an album in six years, but he hasn't been idle. He's run an annual music festival, Blues du Fleuve, in his hometown of Podor in northern Senegal since 2006, and performed widely with the international unit Playing for Change. He's also been soaking up modern sounds. The Traveller, his 11th album, is drenched in electronic sounds that complement his meld of Senegalese folk and pop and offer the fruit of his journeys.
At 61, and with a double-figure back catalogue of albums under his belt in a career dating back to the late 1980s, Baaba Maal is right up there with the likes of Youssou N’Dour and Salif Keita in the ranks of African musical royalty. From his earliest records, Maal has been one of the most enthusiastic exponents of fusion music to emerge from the continent, continuing to sing mostly in Pulaar, the little-known tongue of the Senegalese region from which he hails. Over the years, Maal has collaborated with a host of artists from Europe and the US, both with stellar names like Brian Eno and Peter Gabriel and more unlikely choices, such as Essex singer-songwriter Get Cape, Wear Cape, Fly (remember him?).
The Senegalese superstar Baaba Maal has the crossroads in his sights on his 11th studio album. His identity as a Fulani in a country of Wolofs remains central, as per opening roll, Fulani Rock. Integrated, too, are western and electronic sources, from producer Johan Hugo (The Very Best, whom Maal met through Africa Express), the presence of Winston Marshall (Mumford & Sons, ditto) and the addition of that modernist rapper’s delight, Auto-Tune.
This latest dispatch from the great musical world extending beyond American shores is dedicated to the inauthentic, with absolutely no pejorative connotations intended. Let the folklorists and preservationists continue their good work — attached you’ll find examples of juicy cross-cultural ….