sat 20/04/2024

Album: Fatoumata Diawara - London KO | reviews, news & interviews

Album: Fatoumata Diawara - London KO

Album: Fatoumata Diawara - London KO

Tunes to put a spring in your step that are straight out of West Africa and beyond

London KO: a spicy and colourful dish of mellow and relaxed grooves

It’s been five years since the release of Malian musician and actor Fatoumata Diawara’s breakout album, Fento, and just short of a year since her magnificent headline appearance on the first day of 2022’s Womad Festival. So, it is with some anticipation that her star-studied follow-up has finally appeared – as expected though, it is an absolute peach. 

Contributions from Damon Albarn (who also produced half of the tunes here), Cuban pianist Roberto Fonseca, Ghanaian rapper M.anifest, Angie Stone and the Brooklyn Youth Chorus, to only name a few of her collaborators, result in a set that isn’t easy to categorise.

Elements of Afrobeat, jazz, pop, funk and hip hop all conspire to create a fine blend of traditional Wassoulou rhythms, griotic vocals and contemporary sounds with a spicy and colourful dish of mellow and relaxed grooves. Sung mainly in Bambara (the official language of Mali) with the occasional lick of French and English, London KO is a truly international hip-swinging groove that is sure to put a smile on many faces.

Fatoumata Diawara and Damon Albarn are actually no strangers to each other, as Fatoumata was part of Albarn’s Rocket Juice and the Moon outfit and appeared on their self-titled album back in 2012, as well as recording with Gorillaz in 2020. However, the tunes that they’ve produced on London KO, especially the dubby “Dambe” and the sunny “Nsera”, have got to be the most impressive of their joint repertoire. Other standout tunes here include the soulful funk of “Somaw”, which features guest vocals by Angie Stone, and the more overtly dancefloor oriented “Yada”. But, given the consistent high quality of the songwriting and production throughout, picking out individual tunes for praise really is a fool’s errand. London KO is no doubt an album that will be spreading warm and sunny vibes for some considerable time to come.

Given the consistent high quality of the songwriting and production throughout, picking out individual tunes for praise really is a fool’s errand

rating

Editor Rating: 
4
Average: 4 (1 vote)

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