Senegalese griot Ablaye Cissoko recorded his CD in the Hotel Mermoz, which is situated on a narrow strip of land between the river Senegal and Atlantic Ocean in the city of Saint-Louis, the former colonial capital of Senegal. These eleven pearls of chiming kora and pure, frail singing are as calm and serene as the location of the recording, with just the odd scattered percussion effect added for the more up-tempo arrangements. Diaba and N'na are typical examples of what's on offer - the former with a stop-start rhythm that signifies the swaying gait of the women of Saint-Louis as they walk to the market, and the latter a tenderly delivered composition about the death of Cissoko’s mother when he was aged two.
This is a simple, understated suite of songs, punctuated by a three-part spoken-word story (anyone speak Mandinka?) and oozing heartfelt moments of delicate beauty. Utterly charming.