15 Songs, 52 Minutes

EDITORS’ NOTES

Having embraced a more aggressive electric sound on such Blue Note albums as Gaïa and Heritage, Beninese singer/guitarist Lionel Loueke takes a subdued and intimate turn on The Journey, harking back to the tender melodies and explicit West African influences of his earlier work. The sonic palette is no less imaginative, however; the songs, in their sparse and atmospheric flavor, center around the affecting spiritual cry of Loueke’s vocals, the springy rhythmic attack of his nylon-string guitar, and the ethereal, signal-processed aura of his electric. Producer Robert Sadin ushers in a cast of collaborators including bassist Pino Palladino, percussionists Cyro Baptista and Christi Joza Orisha, classical clarinetist Patrick Messina, improvising violinist Mark Feldman, and traditional peul flutist Dramane Dembélé in a continuously shifting lineup. There’s also a social undercurrent, particularly on “Vi Gnin” (“My Child”), concerning war and displacement—a timely acknowledgement that art can speak to the ills that threaten many around the globe.

EDITORS’ NOTES

Having embraced a more aggressive electric sound on such Blue Note albums as Gaïa and Heritage, Beninese singer/guitarist Lionel Loueke takes a subdued and intimate turn on The Journey, harking back to the tender melodies and explicit West African influences of his earlier work. The sonic palette is no less imaginative, however; the songs, in their sparse and atmospheric flavor, center around the affecting spiritual cry of Loueke’s vocals, the springy rhythmic attack of his nylon-string guitar, and the ethereal, signal-processed aura of his electric. Producer Robert Sadin ushers in a cast of collaborators including bassist Pino Palladino, percussionists Cyro Baptista and Christi Joza Orisha, classical clarinetist Patrick Messina, improvising violinist Mark Feldman, and traditional peul flutist Dramane Dembélé in a continuously shifting lineup. There’s also a social undercurrent, particularly on “Vi Gnin” (“My Child”), concerning war and displacement—a timely acknowledgement that art can speak to the ills that threaten many around the globe.

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