Thursday, December 7, 2017

"Moussolou" by Oumou Sangaré (150 Albums by Women #145)

NPR compiled a list of the 150 greatest albums created by women. I've decided to listen to these albums, from #150 all the way up to #1. But to give myself a bit of forward momentum and have a sense of when I was "done" with each album, my method is to listen to the album one time all the way through, then with each subsequent listen, I'd remove my least favorite. This lets me listen to the best ones most frequently without having to sit through too many that didn't work for me at all.

Album #145 was "Moussolou" by Oumou Sangaré. I had never heard of her before, so in case you hadn't either, she's a hugely important figure in the West African music genre Wassoulou. To quote Wikipedia on this, "Wassoulou music is performed mostly by women. Some recurring themes in the lyrics are childbearing, fertility, and polygamy. Instrumentation includes soku (a traditional fiddle sometimes replaced with modern imported instruments), djembe drum, kamalen n'goni (a six-stringed harp), karinyan (metal tube percussion) and bolon (a four-stringed harp). The vocals are often passionate and emphatic, and delivered in a call-and-response pattern."

The album only had six songs, so I knew right away I wasn't going to have a top five, most likely a top three. And then I ran into difficulty.

You remember when I kicked out all those instrumental pieces in the Terri Lyne Carrington album right away? Well, I've always known I have real trouble connecting to a song without lyrics, and it turns out that's true as well for lyrics that are in a language I don't speak. With fairly similar instrumentation and vocal sounds on all six tracks, I found myself unable to differentiate between them without lyrical content helping me out. I liked listening to all six -- especially as a huge change from the previous album -- but none of them particularly rose to the top and I ended up eliminating them almost randomly as I listened.

Giving this kind of review of this album is kind of awkward because I feel like I should have been able to pick out a favorite or two. Part of me wishes I'd done more research -- found lyrics for these songs, found some translations, and learned what they were saying. Maybe then I'd have connected to them more on an individual level. As it is, we'll just call it a six-way tie and move on to the next album, though I would like to revisit this one some day.

The albums I've listened to thus far in this project, in order:
1. The Roches - The Roches
2. Patty Griffin - Flaming Red
3. Alicia Keys - Songs in A Minor
4. Oumou Sangaré - Moussolou
5. Terri Lyne Carrington - The Mosaic Project

Next up on the NPR list is #144, "Last Splash" by The Breeders.

No comments:

Post a Comment