Habib Koite & Bambada Afriki

Six years after his last studio release, Malian guitarist Habib Koite has finally released another disc into the world. Fans will be pleased, as the album vibrates with Koite’s signature guitar playing, a wonderful openness of sounds from ringing open strings and a touch of blues mixed in with the Malian traditions. The sound is powerful yet peaceful, imbued with the serenity that only a clear sense of purpose can provide. Koite has purpose, both musically and politically — many of the songs on the album feature themes of revival and encouragement for his home nation. "Barra” calls the youth of Africa to work to revive their failing nations: "Stop talking so much and let’s get to work/A concrete action is better than a long speech/Let’s get to work.” Mixed with his unmistakable smoked glass vocals are a variety of traditional African instruments — calling hunter’s horns and thread-y stringed lutes — instruments that are rarely, if ever, heard. Koite has a reputation that far precedes him, but any opportunity to send his voice into the world is taken with a glance backwards and a consideration for not just how his music sounds but what it’s saying. (Cumbancha)