Tchamantche - Rokia Traore

Nonesuch

In truth, a great song requires only a great voice. From there it can be orchestrated to lush perfection. But, Rokia Traore’s latest album, Tchamantche rolls with the former rather than the latter. This haunting new recording by the Malian diva draws from simple inspiration. She balances the delicate tones of the n’goni (African lute) and western classical harp with only the pure, electric expression of her hollow-body guitar and human beat box, courtesy of Sly Johnson. In her own words, she wants to make music that’s “not pop, not jazz, not classical but something contemporary with traditional instruments.” Traore accomplishes what she sets out to with this album. The songs stand up to the weight of her beautiful delivery, the arrangements, while sparse, are appealing enough to intrigue and sustain. The title translates loosely to ‘balance’, something she achieves magnificently here.