It's fair to say that the Super Rail Band
haven't made a bad record, but this is an especially funky outing for them. Released belatedly for some reason (it was recorded in 1995), it's rich in brass, thanks to a guest section, and adds keyboards. But the core of the sound remains very much the same, and strongly Malian (just listen to the balafon that powers "Kanou Salé," for example). With three powerful singers, the Super Rail Band
aren't lacking in the vocal range, and they take full advantage of it. As always, though, their ace in the hole is guitarist Djelimady Tounkara
. He might not be a guitar god in the rock star sense -- i.e., he doesn't feel the need to step front and center for long, egotistical solos -- but his personality is all over this album, like his blistering solo on "Tolonté Sebessa." But his fingers work magic everywhere, with fills in the background and filigrees around Ali Dembelé
's rhythm guitar. "Fourou Kolon" shows a strong debt to Congolese rhumba in its rhythm, and it's a delight to hear the two guitars work in harmony. But there's nothing here that isn't a joy. The songs all have their own distinct power, drawing from many influences while keeping their heart firmly in Mali. Tounkara
might (justifiably) be the band's biggest name, but as a unit the group is quite remarkable, even more than the sum of its parts, with utter magic in everything it lays down in the studio.