Wednesday, September 7, 2011

CD Review: Rwanda's Mighty Popo

Mighty Popo
Borealis Records

Mighty Popo, a Rwandan born in a Burundian refugee camp and now resident of Canada, performs folk music with Afro-pop grooves in the traditional styles of ancient Rwandan society. Mighty Popo sings in Kinyarwanda, which is the only indigenous language in Rwanda. Gakondo, which means "tradition," eloquently describes the historical basis for the songs. As a 2011 Juno nominated BEST WORLD MUSIC recording in Canada, Mighty Popo knows what he is doing. The rootsy, bluesy, and folksy music is rich with African instrumentation, including a seldom-heard inanga, which is a shallow bowl carved of wood with gut strings. In addition, the guitar, congas, tama, cajon, shakers, bodhran, slide guitar, mandolin, and bells round out the instrumental repertoire. The laid-back style and crystal, clear string tones echo the spirit of the late-Ali Farka Toure. The slide guitar work is almost reminiscent of Bob Brozman. A rare recording of a defunct whispering style of music is featured on "Nibarize." The lively vocals, instrumental interludes, and African charm are similar to Uganda's Samite. Gakondo reigns supreme in my music library. ~ Matthew Forss

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