Bonga Mulemba Xangola

Barcelo "Bonga" de Carvalho is a smoky voiced singer that hails from Angola. His music is a fusion of Congolese and Portuguese words and music. The obvious Afro/Portuguese comparison would be Cesaria Evora, of Cape Verde, and it is well made in this case. Bonga has been recording since the '60s, and sounds every inch the veteran showman that is used to moving a crowd. Mulemba Xangola revisits tracks from his groundbreaking (but deleted) Angola 72, and Bonga sounds as though he's never tired of singing these songs. The sound is dominated by acoustic guitar and hand percussion, with frequent bursts of accordion spiking the more up-tempo numbers. Musically, this CD is well produced, if not too thought provoking, and the best moments occur when Congolese soukous rhythms drive the songs ("Mutokodias" being a particular highlight). The real star is Bonga's voice. In lesser hands this could have been yet another coffee house world music album, but he gives it real soul. Like Evora, he sounds like he's lived a hard life and seen it all, but he's going to try his damndest to make you dance! (Lusafrica)