Television (Palm Pictures, 2009)
Hang on to your hats music fans because Baaba Maal’s got a new CD that is set to hit the streets June 1st. Television is a melding of West Africa and electronic dance and it’s so good. We’re talking cool summer breeze good. Shimmy across the floor and not caring who sees you good.
Teaming up with producer Barry Reynolds from Compass Point Studio Band fame, producer John Leckie and Brazilian Girls bandmates singer Sabina Sciubba and keyboardist Didi Gutman, Television shimmers with Mr. Maal’s signature Senegalese sound with an added bonus of the magical deepening of flavor offered by Ms. Sciubba and Mr. Gutman, both who co-wrote several of the tracks for Television.
Television might seem an unusual title but as Mr. Maal explains, "The television set is like a stranger you didn’t ask for coming into your living room. You don’t care about who he is, he just seems to come from nowhere and gives you information." But Maal turns the table on television by adding, "I think the musician’s role is to give advice, to warn people and to make them aware of what they might not have thought of themselves." Well, we’d much rather hear advice from Mr. Maal than the television.
Opening with a rolling rhythm of guitar, keyboard and percussion, title track "Television" is a richly warm with Mr. Maal’s stunning vocals and additional vocals by Ms. Sciubba. I think it would make a great car song. "Tindo" takes up a slightly darker, moody thread with meaty percussion and Mr.Maal’s powerful vocals against Ms. Sciubba’s vocals.
"Miracle" offers up a sweet, feel-good, West African pop feel, while "Canaloupe" is surrounded by a quirky Western twang that is surprising good against Mr. Maal’s vocals. Tracks like the richly worked "A Song for Women," about encouraging powerful roles for African women, and the edgy, European pop feel of "International" explore the electic mix of Television.
"Dakar Moon" throbs with a Latin flavor while "Tindo Quando" stands out for its achingly lovely simplicity and elegance with Mr. Maal and Ms. Sciubba’s vocals.
Television boasts some extraordinary musicians beyond Mr. Maal on guitar, like Barry Reynolds and Mama Gaye on guitars, Aliou Diouf and Jim Palmer on drums, Mbarra Sirname and Danny Thompson on bass and Massamba Diop, Jim Palmer and Mouhamadou Sarr on percussion, as well as the fabulous Mr. Gutman on keyboards. Bright and breezy, Television is …well…Baaba Maal good.
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Author: TJ Nelson
TJ Nelson is a regular CD reviewer and editor at World Music Central. She is also a fiction writer. Check out her latest book, Chasing Athena’s Shadow.
Set in Pineboro, North Carolina, Chasing Athena’s Shadow follows the adventures of Grace, an adult literacy teacher, as she seeks to solve a long forgotten family mystery. Her charmingly dysfunctional family is of little help in her quest. Along with her best friends, an attractive Mexican teacher and an amiable gay chef, Grace must find the one fading memory that holds the key to why Grace’s great-grandmother, Athena, shot her husband on the courthouse steps in 1931.
Traversing the line between the Old South and New South, Grace will have to dig into the past to uncover Athena’s true crime.