Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

Consumer Guide:
  User's Guide
  Grades 1990-
  Grades 1969-89
  Expert Witness
Books:
  Going Into the City
  Consumer Guide: 90s
  Grown Up All Wrong
  Consumer Guide: 80s
  Consumer Guide: 70s
  Any Old Way You Choose It
  Don't Stop 'til You Get Enough
Writings:
  CG Columns
  Rock&Roll& [new]
  Rock&Roll& [old]
  Music Essays
  Music Reviews
  Book Reviews
  NAJP Blog
  Playboy
  Blender
  Rolling Stone
  Billboard
  Video Reviews
  Pazz & Jop
  Recyclables
  Newsprint
  Lists
  Miscellany
Bibliography
NPR
Web Site:
  Home
  Site Map
  What's New?
Carola Dibbell:
  Carola's Website
  Archive
Venues:
  Noisey
CG Search:
Google Search:
Twitter:

Boubacar Traoré

  • Mariama [Sterns Africa, 1990] A-
  • Macir '82 [Indigo, 2000] *
  • Maciré [Indigo, 2000] **
  • The Best of Boubacar Traoré: The Bluesman From Mali [Wrasse, 2003] B+
  • Kongo Magni [World Village, 2005] ***
  • Mali Denhou [Lusafrica, 2011] **
  • Mbalimaou [Lusafrica, 2015] ***

Consumer Guide Reviews:

Mariama [Sterns Africa, 1990]
Guitar and vocals from a Malian (and Parisian) schoolteacher turned singer-songwriter, who declaims like Ali Farka Touré (only Traoré's lovingly preserved Khassonke guitar has no Hook in it) or the Baaba Maal of Djam Leelii (and he accompanies himself). Pealing forth his precepts and laments with a resonant gravity rendered doubly mesmeric by the quiet, implacable instrumentation, Traoré brings me up short every time. If he says everything comes in its own time, then by gum I believe him. And will leave Maal's nice new Baayo to the specialists. A-

Macir '82 [Indigo, 2000]
Firmly avuncular old Malian dance-novelty star turned folkie--lessons in Bambara, love songs in French, time all wrong for blues ("Duna Ma Yelema," "Serrer la Main"). *

Maciré [Indigo, 2000]
firmly avuncular old Malian dance-novelty star turned folkie--lessons in Bambara, love songs in French, time all wrong for blues ("Duna Ma Yelema," "Serrer La Main") **

The Best of Boubacar Traoré: The Bluesman From Mali [Wrasse, 2003]
Though his thoughtful melancholy is his own, Traoré is one of those Africans so indigenously immersed that he sounds like a sage to us--the chorus on "Kar Kar Madison" could be chanting "Honor thy father and thy mother" until you learn that Kar Kar is Traoré's nickname and the Madison the old dance novelty gone Malian. Because he's a sage, you have to be in the mood for him, so I figure 1990's Mariama caught me at the right time. I now prefer this post-1996 sampler while recognizing that it won't be for everyone. Eternal recurrence only goes so far. B+

Kongo Magni [World Village, 2005]
I ask you, how much do words matter with John Hurt? (OK, a little) ("Indépendance," "Djonkana"). ***

Mali Denhou [Lusafrica, 2011]
When you're pushing 70 and your voice sounds it, you earn fewer charm and texture points in Bambara than in English ("Mali Denhou," "N'Dianamogo") **

Mbalimaou [Lusafrica, 2015]
A Malian "blues" guitar record where producer Ballaké Sissoko's kora fits right in--deeply calming, slightly new age ("Mbalimaou," "Sina Moussou Djougou") ***