Oumou (Nonesuch 79827-2, 2004)
This double-CD is both a compilation of previously released tunes (digitally
remastered) and a new release, featuring eight unreleased songs. Sangare – the
songbird of Wassoulou – took wing from southern Mali in 1990 on the strength of
her debut album, Moussolou (Women). She’s gone on to become a world music
celebrity, and a controversial one at that, given that the subject matter of her
original material frequently addresses women’s issues and concerns. Oumou
provides a sustained perspective on Sangare’s social conscience, as well as a
generous sampling of her distinctive voice.
She sings with a bell-like clarity, drawing out long passages via her superb
vocal technique, weaving voice and instruments into a mesmerizing tapestry. Hot
tracks include “Ah Ndiya,” “Magnoumako,” “Dugu Kamalemba” (Sangare’s first
criticism of polygamy), “Maladon,” “Baba” and “Djorolen.” Oumou comes with
Sangare’s notes on every song, which provide some nice insights into her lyrics
and how they reflect her social concerns.