Jan 20, 2015

RhoDeo 1503 Roots


Today Senegalese guitarist, harmonica player and singer Ismael Lo is a rising star of world music. With his smooth multi-textured voice and low-key folky style, he and his 12-piece band play strong, complex, percussion-laden mbalax songs that discuss important topics in Senegal ranging from racism and respect to immigration. There's 5 complete albums here Ismael's first albums are the bonus devided over Natt and Diawar...N'Joy.

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Ismael was born into a Muslim family in Dongo Buti, Niger, the son of a Senegalese father and Nigerian mother; they moved to Rufisque, Senegal while Lo was still quite young. His father had two wives and between them they had 18 children. Lo is the only one who became a musician. He loved music from an early age and got his start playing a homemade one-string guitar. Early American influences included Otis Redding, Wilson Pickett and Etta James, and he learned their songs by listening to the radio. At first he only played for the joy of it and never considered performing, but then an older brother, who owned a club, asked him to play on a local television show, "Tele Variety." Lo said no the first time, and continued to study decorating and painting at a trade school, but a few months later he reconsidered and appeared on the show. He was an instant hit and this inspired him to think about performing full-time. One week later, Lo again appeared on the show and was paid $300 for his work.

In the 1970s, Lo studied at the School of Art in Dakar. In 1979, singer/songwriter Omar Pene invited Lo to play in his popular group Super Diamono de Dakar, a band that played mbalax-blues, a mixture of Cuban and Senegalese rhythms. Lo, with his talent for guitar playing and songwriting, quickly established himself as a key figure in the band and soon became the second lead singer, backup singer and rhythm guitarist. By the early '80s he found himself wanting to launch a solo career, but felt like he would leave a gaping hole in the band that could destroy it. In 1984, the pressure became too much and he left for Spain to do some painting. He began recording as a solo artist upon his return. His first albums included Xalat, Xiff, Natt, and Gor Sayina, and a self-titled album released on Mango in 1992.

Two years later, Lo released his second full-length album, Iso (named for Lo's childhood nickname). The album was met with critical acclaim in France, and Lo toured Africa the following year in support of the release. His first compilation disc, Jammu Africa, featuring a duet with Marianne Faithfull, was released in 1996, and soon after Lo was invited to perform at L'Olympia with Jane Birken. After touring the globe for a few years, a third solo effort, Dabah (named in honor of the Senegalese artist Dabah Malik) came out in 2001, and in the following year the French government dubbed Lo a Knight of the Legion of Honor. He toured Europe and Africa over the course of the next two years, and in 2006 he released Senegal and African Nights. which was recorded in Dakar, Paris and London. Lo says of it, "Giving this album the title Sénégal was my way of paying tribute to my own country, in recognition of all its gifts to me"

In 1997, Lo starred in Moussa Sene Absa's film 'Tableau Ferraille' (Iron Landscape). In 2002, he was made a Knight of the Legion of Honor.

The film "Shake Hands with the Devil (2007 film)", about the Rwandan genocide, starts with Lo's song "Jammu Africa".

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An album comprised largely of Afrobeat sounds for Lo's third release. The music moves, however, from pure Afrobeat, on to piano-accompanied vocal work, vaguely in the vocal jazz/pop singer style. Lo's vocal prowess on the album is stunning, as would be expected. There are less parallels in general to other Senegalese and/or Malian singers, as there were on other albums. Lo seems to be defining his own style a bit more clearly here, as he was progressing through his career. The songs deal with topics ranging from the inevitability of death to the pain of arranged marriages to love for his mother. Musically, the album is probably a step up from Diawar, but both are worthwhile. Pick it up as a fan of Lo, or as a fan of the West African vocal traditions.

Ismaël Lô - Iso  (flac  333mb)

01 Dibi Dibi Rek 4:40
02 Nafanta 4:15
03 La Femme Sans Haine (Toutes Les Femmes) 4:24
04 Rero 3:13
05 Senegambie 5:41
06 Baol-Baol 6:18
07 Nabou 4:58
08 Nassarane 4:14
09 Wassaliane 4:09
10 Setsinala 4:27
11 Khar 4:26
12 Samayaye 5:59

Ismaël Lô - Iso  (ogg  133mb)

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A seventh album from Ismaël Lo (in the Americas at least). Here, he provides a nice album of vocals and guitar work created in the studios of Dakar and Paris, as is so often the case with Senegalese artists. The album starts out with a powerful vocal showpiece in "Aiwa," followed by a light song in French. Following is the dancehall-worthy "Biguisse," with its thick beats, followed by the slower "Amoul Solo" and the heart-wrenching title track. The next two tracks bring the urban groove back, and the invocation of a democratic Africa presents a distinct Latin flavor. "Diour Sani" and "Badara" show off more guitar work from Ismaël Lo, as well as a bit of harmonica in "Badara." "Ma Dame" brings a loping, reggae-like beat, and "N'Dally" returns the Parisian dance sounds. "Xalas" shows a more chaotic, rhythmic side to Lo's composing, and "Mam" follows it up carefully, keeping in the same tone and even repeating a bit of the chorus. Punchy horns and a complex beat serve the listener a treat on the way out of the album. Throughout, it's a worthwhile album, showing a multitude of sides to Lo's songwriting abilities. For a newcomer to Senegalese music, there are two people who need to be heard: Youssou N'Dour and Ismaël Lo. This album covers half of that spectrum quite well. Pick it up for a look into the trend and, more importantly, a generally enjoyable listen.

Ismaël Lô -  Dabah  (flac  414mb)

01 Aiwa 3:33
02 L'Amour A Tous Les Droits 5:09
03 Biguissse 3:20
04 Amoul Solo 4:46
05 Dabah 4:30
06 Boulfale 4:51
07 Faut Qu'On S'Aime 3:48
08 Africa Democratie 3:46
09 Diour Sani 5:10
10 Badara 4:08
11 Ma Dame 4:25
12 N'Dally 3:19
13 Xalas 5:22
14 Mam 4:56

Ismaël Lô -  Dabah  (ogg 150mb)

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Ismaël Lô has long been thought of as Africa's Bob Dylan, since he performs with guitar and harmonica. But it's a comparison that doesn't work for Senegal, which is a lushly arranged look at his own country. The subjects of his songs -- racism, poverty, famine, and a ferryboat disaster that's commemorated on "Le Jola" -- might be hard-hitting, but they're couched in lulling Afro-pop that seems to take any sting out of the words. Even when the album goes up-tempo it never loses control. What's missing, really, is a sense of passion and fire in the music. It's eminently listenable, and Lô's a gorgeous singer and tunesmith. But a starker backdrop might serve him better, as many of the tunes seem to blend into one, homogenous whole.

Ismaël Lô - Senegal  (flac  426mb)

01 Baykat 4:29
02 Incha Allah 4:05
03 Tass Yakar 4:00
04 Le Jola 4:31
05 Taar Dousey 4:41
06 Manko 4:48
07 Yaye Boye 4:42
08 Plus Je Fais Ci, Plus Je Fais Ça 3:59
09 Mbindane 4:23
10 Wakhal 4:17
11 Ouvriers 4:48
12 Jiguen 4:46
13 Ma Fille 2:58
14 Tajabone 4:04

Ismaël Lô - Senegal  (ogg 157mb )

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