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Moffou

Salif Keita

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Album Review

Sometimes a return to basics can be the best way for an artist to move forward. For Salif Keita, that's definitely the case with Moffou. In spite of using a hefty number of musicians (17, plus six backing vocalists), the sound is very stripped-down. Even the supple electric guitar work of Djeli Moussa Kouyaté is mellow and low-key. The real beauty here is Keita's voice, carefully framed and used to maximum effect. High, almost piercing, it's a gorgeous instrument that can ride and transform a melody, whether the lulling gentleness of "Yamore" or the more upbeat — but never frenzied — "Iniagige." Overall, it's a record of swaying, seductive gentleness, one perfectly suited to Keita's style. After a few artistic missteps, he needs an album like this to reaffirm who he is and give a renewal to his sound. While it's strongly rooted, it's by no means strictly a Malian roots album; that's never been all of his music by any means. While ineffably West African, there's a lovely light sheen to the production that could only be European, and serves the sound well, smoothing it out but never losing the intimate flavor that's at the album's heart. Moffou reaffirms Keita's star status, and his reputation as one of the world's most glorious voices.

Biography

Born: 1949 in Djoliba, Mali

Genre: World

Years Active: '60s, '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s

Salif Keita gave up a lot to pursue his dreams of a career in music. Born to royal lineage, with ancestral roots going back to Soundjata Keita, the founder of the Malian Empire in 1240, Keita was disowned by his father after announcing his plans to play music. Keita's dreams, however, were too strong to be shattered. Moving to the capitol city of Bamako in 1967, he was soon playing in nightclubs with one of his brothers. Within two years, he was invited to join the Rail Band. A popular, government-sponsored...
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Moffou, Salif Keita
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