Album Review: Baaba Maal -The Traveller

This is one of the albums you would hear and go like; Wait! Is that Baaba Maal? Based on the strings and the vocals of course; Well it is!

The Senegalese legend has put out an album that features his typical acoustic compositions and electronic sounds. As an avid fan of Baaba Maal, to state the truth, I would not have visualized the 62-year-old rocking us with such sounds-even though his previous album had influences from western music-but as usual his touch on this project is proof of the artiste’s versatility, skilled hands and music craftsmanship.

Maal has worked with equally versatile Swedish Producer and multi-instrumentalist, Johan Hugo Karlberg from ‘The Very Best’ group.

‘The Very Best’ is a rock, electronic, hip-hop group that features Malawian vocalist Esau Mwamwaya and Hugo Karlberg himself. The group is behind hit albums like: The Warm Heart of Africa (which featured French producer Etienne Tron), MTMTMK, several mixtapes and their latest album dubbed Makes A King.

Winston Marshall of Mumford & Sons is also featured on this stimulating project.

In an interview with OkayAfrica, Baaba Maal stated that he does not want The Traveller Album to be generalized into ‘African Music’, but in contrast the album is all about good rich music for all people from all over the world.

The 17th album from the African legend has a total of 9 tracks, features African sounds and a touch of electronic sounds with varied tempos. Baaba Maal travels through different worlds in this exemplary project that details aspects of different cultures, but with deep roots in the African sounds with tweaks in between well balanced electronic sounds. 

The Traveller also features poet Lemn Sassy who comes in the last two tracks ‘War’ and ‘Peace’. ‘War’ almost borders on hard rock, Lemn Sassy spoken word poetry blends in well with the instrumentals as the poet explodes with an emotional delivery as he addresses the subject of war. ‘Peace’ on the other hand takes a laid back approach kind of cools down the ‘temperatures’ from the heated pace of the previous, Maal gets back to his singing alongside Sassy’s words on this last track giving the whole album a graceful end.

Maal’s unmatched vocals on ‘Kalaajo’ are presented in various tone variations that would leave your soul craving for more. ‘Lampeeda’ on the other hand leans more towards western electronic music.

The album out January 15, 2016 was recorded in Senegal and London.

Rewind: Fulani Rock, Gilli Men and Kalaajo 

Label: Marathon Artists.

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