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Adam Klein (recording as Lassine Kouyate): Dugu Wolo

http://www.adam-klein.com

Adam Klein’s most recent solo album, Wounded Electric Youth, was very well received here on Flyinshoes, and now he’s back with something completely different. Adam is based in Athens, Georgia, but a Peace Corps stint in Mali a decade or so ago brought him strong connections to the country, and a huge respect for its culture. Thus, Dugu Wolo is a set of songs predominantly written in the Bambara language and recorded with Malian musicians performing on traditional instruments. This is a remarkably soulful record, leaving a warm glow in its wake.  Many of the songs amount to homilies, “messages concerning development, hope, dignity and peace”, as Adam writes in his sleeve notes, and the delivery is so heartfelt (both vocally and instrumentally) that the dignity shines through.

         I don’t have huge familiarity with Malian music but I have enough to recognise the sounds and the spirit that comes through here. The fluid lines on electric guitar are augmented by warm, liquid sounds from kora and ngoni (held to be the distant ancestor of the banjo) and rhythms tapped out on a variety of instruments. Recorded over just four days, Adam says most parts were recorded on the first take, the initial response of great musicians to the song that he’d laid down as a base recording. At times there is a sublime beauty to the interplay of instruments, with the vocals remaining laid-back – conversational even. I’d imagine immense credit must go the mixing engineer for getting the feel of relaxed, organic music-making to shine through; there really is a strong sense of a few musical pals gathered round, playing off each other as the tropical evening draws on.

           Adam has gone to great lengths with his Malian collaborators to make this a properly Malian record, getting the lyrics and the melodies to feel right for a Malian audience. Two songs are recorded in English, however, and once or twice there’s a sense of American folk melody in the tune – just enough to nicely suggest the connections that may exist between two apparently separate traditions, the “Atlantic passage” that he says he heard in the playing of Malian bluesman, Lobi Traore. I have absolutely no idea how this record will go down with world music fans in the west or with the Malian audience it’s primarily intended for; all I can say is that it strikes me as a rather beautiful piece of work that can only help spread the idea of the interconnectedness of us all on this planet. As I write, Mali is going through a period of violent upheaval that rather brutally shoves aside earnest messages of public health and community togetherness; here’s hoping peaceful conclusions will be reached sooner rather than later, enabling a return to the spirit enshrined on Dugu Wolo.

John Davy

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April 2018

1
Courtney Marie Andrews
100 pts.
May Your Kindness Remain
Loose Music
PK,CVL,DHO,JB,LK
2
Mary Gauthier
59 pts.
Rifles And Rosary Beads
In the Black Records
 
3
Caleb Caudle
49 pts.
Crushed Coins
Cornelius Chapel Records
TJ,TK,MP
4
Western Centuries
48 pts.
Songs From The Deluge
Free Dirt Records
DD,GS,FS,HM
5
Vivian Leva
44 pts.
Time is Everything
Free Dirt Records
 
6
Ed Romanoff
42 pts.
The Orphan King
Pinerock Records
 
7
Grant Peeples
41 pts.
Settling Scores vol. 2
Continental
AN
8
Joan Baez
32 pts.
Whistle Down The Wind
Proper Records
 
9
Jeb Barry and the Pawn Shop Saints
29 pts.
Texas, etc...
DollyRocker
MF,HDB
 
Sam Morrow
29 pts.
Concrete and Mud
Forty Below Records
JV
11
Chris Smither
27 pts.
Call Me Lucky
Signature Sounds
JSM,JD
12
Michael McDermott
26 pts.
Out From Under
Continental Song City
CRS
13
John Prine
24 pts.
The Tree of Forgiveness
Oh Boy Records
SP
14
Mary Chapin Carpenter
23 pts.
Sometimes Just The Sky
Lambent Light Records
 
15
Dean Owens
22 pts.
Southern Wind
At The Helm
PJ
16
6 String Drag
21 pts.
Top of The World
Schoolkids Records
FCE,JS
 
Haley Heynderickx
21 pts.
I Need To Start A Garden
Mama Bird Recordings
 
 
Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats
21 pts.
Tearing At The Seams
Stax Records
RM
19
Abe Partridge
20 pts.
Cotton Fields And Blood For Days
Skate Mountain
MVP,RK
 
Adam James Sorensen
20 pts.
Dust Cloud Refrain
Continental Song City
BM
 
Ben Reel
20 pts.
Land Of Escape
B REEL Records
 
 
Chip Taylor
20 pts.
Fix Your Words
Train Wreck Records
LM
 
Kesia Nagata
20 pts.
Looking For Horses
Caramal Productions
GC,EZ
 
Sheesham & Lotus & 'Son
20 pts.
Clear The Table
SepiaPhone Records
SZ,PG
25
3hattrio
18 pts.
Lord of the Desert
Okehdokee Records
 
 
Marlon Williams
18 pts.
Make Way for Love
Dead Oceans

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