mon 18/10/2021

Album: Angélique Kidjo - Mother Nature | reviews, news & interviews

Album: Angélique Kidjo - Mother Nature

Album: Angélique Kidjo - Mother Nature

The Grammy winner's album of new songs for a new Africa

'An album about the future, about the reclamation of talent and potential and purpose'

Hailing from Benin and based in Paris since she was 23, Angélique Kidjo can sing in five languages, has collaborated with an A-list festival line-up of global stars ranging from Alicia Keys and Philip Glass to Herbie Hancock and Peter Gabriel, and had her first albums released by Island, after being spotted by label head Chris Blackwell.

Each of them was studded with guest artists, including Branford Marsalis and Gilberto Gil, and featuring covers such as Hendrix’s “Voodoo Child”.

She has won Grammys, travelled widely as a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador, and set up a foundation to empower and educate sub-Saharan girls – she was one of the few girls from her own culture to receive an education. Following her 2014 album, Eve, dedicated “to the women of Africa”, her next studio project was celebrating and interpreting the songs of Talking Heads and their album Remain in Light. Her 2019 tribute to Cuban singing legend Celia Cruz won her another Grammy, and now, on the other side of 18 months of severe global pandemic, she releases Mother Nature, her first set of original new songs since Eve.

Dance music and pop have always been a part of her music’s DNA – her 1991 debut, Logozo, is hailed as one of the all-time great global dance albums – and that spirit is all over Mother Nature. It’s a collaborative spirit, too. She’s turned to a younger generation of West African performers as co-artists, purveyors of 21st-century Afrobeats, Afro-pop, hip hop and r&b. They include the likes of Nigerian singers Burna Boy on the empowering uplift of “Do Yourself”, and Yemi Alade duetting on new single “Dignity” – a plea to end the police brutality that has led to widespread unrest in Nigeria – while songwriter Mr Eazi shares mic duties with Salif Keita (Mali’s "Golden Voice") and Kidjo on “Africa, One of a Kind”. The Australian-based Zambian rapper Sampa the Great steps up with Kidjo on “Free and Equal”, addressing the long-unfulfilled promise of equality in the US Declaration of Independence.

Layered with a dizzying array of beats, synths, guitars and voices – often with a good shake of autotune manipulations – and drawing on Congolese, Cuban and West African traditions alongside inflections of contemporary pop, jazz and soul, Mother Africa stands up for freedom and equality across a continent where old, despotic leaderships and geriatric third-term presidencies feel like enormous socio-political fatbergs, centres of low gravity bending the present, and the future, out of shape. This is an album about the future, about the reclamation of talent and potential and purpose. And it’s great, pan-African pop music.

@CummingTim

Dance music and pop have always been a part of her music’s DNA and that spirit is all over 'Mother Nature'

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