If calm and melodic ruminations on the world’s woes can provide a musically palliative cure, we should gag our rants and stifle our moans to allow this record the aural space to delicately work its magic. That would be the sweet dream anyway.
Habib Koite and Eric Bibb merge their respective West African [Mali] and American [Finland!] roots music with a gentle glue that adheres melody and acoustic guitar/banjo playing to beautiful effect. On the opening two tracks, each artist shares a geographical as well as cultural exchange with Bibb’s first On My Way To Bamako and Koite’s second L.A. – a musical mission statement on partnership and sharing [with Koite singing in French so I’m not entirely sure what the cultural celebration is, apart from an English expression of enjoying five shots of tequila that make me happy!].
They literally first join on third track Touma Ni Kelen/Needed Time which is gorgeous, both picking guitars – folk blues and flamenco - and accompanied by percussive African rhythms and sounds. Tracks We Don’t Care and Send Us Brighter Days present their concern for the world’s self-indulgences and greed and therefore the need for a better way, the latter a slow blues with the sweetest harmonising. The whole album rests – perhaps too comfortably for some – in this peaceful and meditative mood. Indeed, the twelfth track is a rather soporific version of Blowin’ In The Wind where the famous narrative does fit that reflective disposition but it is a little too slow and misses the rhetorical pace inherent in its lyrics.
So if you are wide awake and can steel yourself against the soothing sound, or alternatively you need to chill, this has thirteen tracks to comfort and please with ease.