Oumou Sangare Seya

Oumou Sangare Seya
Seya takes Oumou Sangaré's status as a leading global voice, most notably as an unrelenting social critic on the status of women in Africa, and as of late, a global ambassador for the U.N.'s food and agriculture org, and elevates her political, spiritual and artistic expressions to new plateaus. Sangaré's songwriting flies with that buoyant, contagious Malian drive (no matter the tempo) and Seya marries the complexity of her percussive and melodic choices with accessible messages, entrancing guitar, brooding West African lutes and cool, bubbly polyrhythms. Her soulful voice resonates over the sustained choruses and steady pulses throughout, so it's hard to pick a standout on this disc but "Sounsoumba," "Kounadya" and "Seya" are particularly well-crafted. Sangaré, a performer since age 13, waited six years since her last release — luckily, the album is a fully realized success. Roots intact, the "songbird of Wassoulou" delivers a strong-from-start-to-finish album of innovative and accessible Afro-pop without losing the Mali in the mix. Bravo. (Nonesuch/World Circuit/Warner)