Cheikh Lô

Record review

Phases & Stages

Cheikh Lô

Lamp Fall (World Circuit)

Three's a charm for multi-instrumentalist Cheikh Lô. Honing harmonic and percussive skills in his native West Africa before hanging his shingle in Paris in the late Eighties, Lô is a vox-guitar-drum triple threat. Senegal superstar and Peter Gabriel collaborator Youssou N'Dour recognized the dreadlocked composer's talent, producing his fine 1995 debut Ne La Thiass. This led to international awards and tours, then 2000's mellifluous Bambay Gueej. Augmenting this formidable head of steam, Lô now releases his best, a 13-track steamship pulsing to and fro across the Atlantic. Recorded in London, Brazil, and Senegal, it features Lô's trademark West African rhythmic bed, trimmed with honey harmony from the fruited African Diaspora. With its rolling Cuban rhythm, "Sante Yalla" could be a lost Buena Vista cut, while the samba-driven "Sénégal-Brésil" nearly pops a woofer. A devout member of a spiritual society, Lô often sings about sacred topics – like Bob Marley – and Tuff Gong himself would liven up to the sunsplash of "Bamba Mo Woor," its tenor sax punch courtesy of former James Brown hornman Pee Wee Ellis. Along with simply great cuts, the MVP here is Lô's vox – silky 'n' edgy, vintage soul singer. Not yet halfway through 2006, Lô's Lamp Fall is a Top 10 no-brainer. ***.5

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