Donne Roberts Rhythm Was Born

Donne Roberts is a guitarist who hails from Madagascar, and was a member of Juno-winning, Live 8 performing African Guitar Summit. He has taken an unusual path to his first solo album, spending many years working and living in Russia and France, absorbing different styles into his musical vocabulary. His Malagasy Soul approach starts with Malagasy’s salegy, then blends Central African bass lines and Stevie Ray Vaughn guitar strokes into a unique pop-friendly blend. "Malahelo” starts with a near-bossa melody before breaking into a gentle but pulsating acoustic guitar driven soukous groove. "Mahareza” is about as low down as it gets on this disc — none of the tunes on Rhythm Was Born are furiously funky, but their versatile arrangements ensure they don’t descend into cloying and bland world beat. Another plus is the strong backing vocals of former Mother Tongue vocalist Celina Carroll, who brings a luminous energy to the disc. Unusual instrumentation also makes difference: Indian udus, Bajan junkanoo drum, and liberal amounts of electronics further Roberts’ sound. This is a very pan-Afro-Canadian sound with above average production, you wouldn’t hear an Afro-pop recording quite like this come from anywhere else in the world. (Independent)