Hermas Zopoula Espoir

Hailing from Burkina Faso (where he is a translator at its international airport), Zopoula is a fresh new world music talent. Espoir, his first international recording, is actually two CDs, each appealing in its own way. Espoir is a band effort and its sunny sound is often reminiscent of a stripped-down King Sunny Ade, with its strummed guitars and female background vocals. The second disc, Live In Ouagadougou, was literally recorded (by Canadian Jonathan Dueck) in Zopoula's backyard, and is a strictly solo voice and guitar effort. The sparse setting showcases the sweet simplicity of Hermas's voice and faith-based lyrics, with an obvious musical reference point being Seu Jorge. He sings in French, English, Dioula and Sissali here, with pleasing results. This is a near-perfect, laidback soundtrack for the summer. (Asthmatic Kitty)