Foutan Fonnkér (Cobalt 09293-2, 2000)
Danyel Waro is a real character from Réunion – still part of France, even though lost in the Indian ocean – where he is probably the island’s most famous singer of maloya (a local blues of the once enslaved plantation workers, with a rolling beat similar to the better known sega, a traditional regional dance rhythm), accompanied by traditional and mainly percussive instruments made in his own workshop.
Danyel Waro is a staunch island nationalist, jailed in France as a young man for 2 years for refusing to do his compulsory military service. Judging from the lyrics of the songs summarised in the notes, he remains very much ‘insoumis’, a rebel protesting against metropolitan French control and arrogance in Réunion.
The title track, cautiously translated as ‘caustic poem’ (any word with ‘fout’ in it is much more vulgar!), is a particularly elegant and sarcastic diatribe. Overall, the results are very appealing – a clear tenor voice, solidly supported by chorus and a wide range of intriguing percussion.
How I wish I understood creole, to appreciate fully the subtleties and wit of DW’s mockeries! I have to be content just with enjoying the seductive package DW and his collaborators have skillfully created.
To my great surprise, the photos of DW show a slim white with a great mop of fair hair! If you are a fan of genuine roots music, this CD, recorded at a live 1996 concert in Germany, during one of DW’s rare excursion from Réunion, is a must!
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Author: William Bain
William Bain wrote these reviews while he was host of ‘Chimes of Freedom’ on CFFF/ Trent Radio (Peterborough, Ontario, Canada)