Thursday, April 26, 2007

DABY TOURE - Stereo Spirit (Real World)

Warning: this album comes with tunes that really get under your skin. After a couple of plays of the second solo album from the Paris-based Mauritanian singer-songwriter, you might be ready to condemn it as so much Afropean aural wallpaper, the songs gliding by on what seems like a Real World house production style, all smoothed out edges and arrangements that seem to leave the music suspended in mid-air.
But, slowly but surely a handful of the more melodic tracks begin to nag away at the eardrums, provoking involuntary bouts of sing-along-a-Daby. The delicately textured opener, Kebaluso will get you first, Touré’s deep vocal tone effortlessly slipping into a happy-go-lucky falsetto chorus. Before you know it, you’ll have Baye’s Beach Boy hook swimming around your head as well.
These are perfect examples of what Touré does best – short, sweet, breezy mid-tempo pop songs based around his warm, mellifluous voice and refreshingly clean acoustic guitar playing. It’s all there again on the jaunty Setal and Bibou, which is filled out with some chunky reggae-tinged electric guitar.
Don't expect much evidence of Daby Touré’s African roots, though. There’s no hint here of the dry, desert music of the Moors, or the Afro-Mauritanian music of his home region in the south of the country. The album’s highlight, Banta, probably comes closest with its pit-a-pat percussion and a chiming, sing-song guitar pattern reminiscent of the ringing tones of Lusaphone guitarists like Manecas Costa.
The three ballads don't work quite so well, too often guilty of an anthemic seriousness, and elsewhere the more ambitious attempts at pop-rock crossover, such as the treacly English-language My Life (a worryingly precise approximation of Youssou NDour’s worst ‘80s experiments), arguably reveal a need for some third party quality control. Touré's a prodigious talent, but the creative freedom this has afforded him (he’s arranger, producer and plays all the instruments) proves counter-productive at times as ambition is compromised by elaborate multi-layered instrumentation and the occasional leaden 4/4 backbeat, meaning there are some bitter pills to be swallowed alongside the half a dozen sweet-tasting delights.

No comments: