Bako Dagnon Sidiba

From the first note Bako Dagnon sings on Sidiba, it's as if a river of lovely, trembling vocals continuously spills out. A seasoned vocalist, Dagnon has been part of Mali's music community for nearly 40 years. As her voice frequently moves from low to high octaves, her range becomes mesmerizing and the minimalist instrumental background allows Bako to bask in the spotlight. Packaged with soothing female back-up vocalists, light accompanying guitar and an ensemble of tight percussionists (playing djembe, udu, cajon and woodblock, to name a few), Sidiba conjures oasis-like imagery. As a trained ancestral praise singer, Bako's lyrical focus is on the retelling of traditional Manden West African stories. However, her style isn't strictly traditional. On "Badjigui," Bako adopts a husky sound as she grooves to rupturing, blues-esque guitar progressions. Although each of the album's 11 tracks is equally captivating, top picks are the fast-paced, danceable "Le Guide de la Revolution" and the grungier sounding "M'ba." (Discograph)