Consumer Guide Album
Daby Balde: Introducing Daby Balde [World Music Network, 2005]
This Dakar star is a 36-year-old Fouladou from the Casamance region south of Gambia, the cultural complexity of which is said to be why his band includes classically trained Belgian bigshots on violin and accordion. But if the explanation is glib, the results aren't. The groove and ambience are West African with European shading--not Portuguese as history would suggest, but Balkan, probably an accident rather than an influence, though in the melting pot that is the continent that invented imperialism, who knows? Lithe, warm, changeable, distinct, Balde's voice arouses hope, and in time the arrangements claim attention even when the tunes don't grab it. With so much of the best nonarchival Afropop dependent on known quantities or brave new genre experiments, he has a shot at becoming a known quantity himself.