Album Review: Moh! Kouyaté – Loundo (Un Jour) [Foli Son; 2nd February 2016]

Loundo (Un Jour) is the coming-of-age, debut album from Guinean-born Moh! Kouyaté.  A protégé of the Mandingo tradition, Kouyaté is establishing himself as ‘one to watch’ on the international world music scene.

After a cursory glance at both his image and musical style, the spectre of Kasiah Jones looms large, which makes sense as Kouyaté is now based in France. There’s an energetic afro-funk shimmer that feels familiar. Delve deeper and you uncover a sensitive, West African songwriter with a rock and pop sensibility. Kouyaté is definitely not shy of showing off his full range. He’s an accomplished guitarist, sings in four different languages and effortlessly crosses from griot to rock.

The opening track ‘T’En Vas Pas, Ca Va Pas‘ is an afro-funk classic. However, there’s something all-together enchanting that underpins the whole record, exemplified in ‘Mabinty’; classic west-African hi-life delivered by the now familiar acoustic guitar.

Like many contemporary African guitarist songwriters, Kouyaté has merged his traditional music education with love of jazz, blues, funk and soul. Kouyaté sites Django Reinhardt and BB King as big influences on his sound.  The title track ‘Loundo‘ is a gentle rock ballad that sits in the middle of this 16 track odyssey of Kouyaté journey across continents and cultures.

If you’re familiar with the folky guitar style and Sufi-like vocalisation of Baba Maal and Youssou n’Dour, Loundo (Un Jour) by Moh! Kouyaté won’t disappoint.

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