. issue II : vii .

by barathron

. artist : baba salah .
. album: dangay (the north) .
. year : 2013 .
. label : studio mali .
. grade : b plus .

Baba Salah

Baba Salah is a guitarist from Gao in northern Mali who is now based in Bamako. He is best known outside his country as the guitarist for Oumou Sangare (one of Mali’s biggest international stars), but even within his home region, Salah is popular in his own right and has several cassettes on the market. Gao is a trading center and cultural crossroads, and Salah’s first international release is a great introduction to his brand of Malian multicultural Afropop. He is Songhai, and, like the famous Songhai musician Ali Farka Touré, he plays a bluesy brand of finger-picked electric guitar. The calabash percussion and one-stringed njarka fiddle in the fore of “Chérie” is Salah at his most Farka-like. He is also influenced by the popular, gritty, and rock-indebted Tuareg desert blues sound, of which “Amidininé” is an excellent example. Salah is known for his virtuoso electric guitar solos, and the song “Fari,” so reminiscent of Bambara bluesman Lobi Traore, shows why he is in demand. He puts it all together on “Ay Derey” and “Zankay,” tuneful Afropop songs with sympathetic band accompaniment that measure up with the continent’s best. Good stuff.

by Bill Lupoletti