A captivating collection featuring many of Africa’s best singer-songwriters performing beautiful songs with an acoustic flavor.
This flowingly well-sequenced collection of semi-acoustic tracks, some of which have a smoothly mainstream FM-radio feeling while others are more roots-oriented, is just the thing to unwind after a stressful workday or get the weekend off to an effervescent yet relaxed start. South African troubadour Vusi Mahlasela and Senegalese pop icon Diogal are heard to great effect, as are Congolese stars Faya Tess and Lokua Kanza, entwined in a lusciously Cuban-rumba-influenced duet. A lesser-known Cape Verdean songstress named Gabriela Mendes swings her way through a typically dance-like ditty and Dobet Gnahoré of Ivory Coast makes a similarly strong impression. A previously unreleased tune by Angelique Kidjo of Benin rounds the set out; every compilation should ideally offer something new, not just retreads, so this is definitely a good thing. Another important selling point: a portion of the proceeds from this album will be donated to Mercy Corps in support of their efforts to help victims of AIDS and the civil war in Darfur, and to Oxfam America and Oxfam Novib’s “Make Trade Fair.” –Christina Roden