|Amadou and Mariam |
Dimanche a Bamako
As Dimanche a Bamako begins, among the first words uttered are "How are you?". Although these are asked by a child to Amadou and Mariam, it might as well be directed at anyone who listens to this record. Dimanche a Bamako focuses in large part on life in their native Senegal, but more importantly, on including the rest of us in their community, and how this can be accomplished person to person, and on a larger scale, between peoples. Songs like "La Paix" calls for solidarity between African neighbours; "Politic Amagni" warns about the destruciveness of politics and appeals for honesty and integrity from those in power; the final song, "M'Bife Blues", puts it most clearly by asking, "I love you, you love me, where is the problem?"
The album was recorded by none other than Manu Chao, and his presence is very much felt throughout, particularly on songs like "Senegal Fast Food", in which he takes on lead vocals, or Camions Sauvages, with his signature percussive ska-like guitar rhythm and talk-singing. It's no doubt in large part to his contributions to, and association with this release that Dimanche a Bamako has gone gold in France, where Chao is very popular. And while his style is all over the place here, it is to Amadou and Mariam's credit that he does not take over the record. In fact, the best songs here are the ones in which they are the sole writers. "Beaux Dimanches", an utterly joyous song about Sunday being the day of weddings, describes everyone coming together for the festivities. The melody is completely blissful, and the beat is propulsive. The sounds of people together having a great time makes you feel like you are there, part of it all. This is my favourite song here, but not by much: "Gnidjougouya", another beautiful melody, is positively floating, helped largely by a shimmering electric guitar line. At the center however is Mariam's almost child-like voice, basking in the Sun.
Amadou and Mariam's album aims to involve the listener in the day-to-day goings-on in Senegal, and to make the point that everyone belongs everywhere and anywhere they may go, while at the same time pleading for the annihilation of ignorance and intolerance. They do a very good job of showing that this all goes hand in hand; their soulful, highly melodic, and addictively rhythmic music is just the right medium within which to deliver this message.
- Robert Ferdman | 2006-10-02
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