by Francis Andrews in New Music on Thursday 20 November 2008

The first album released by the Malian duo Amadou & Mariam, Dimanche a Bamako, bordered on exceptional, if not for its songwriting then for its sheer diversity. You’d be forgiven for approaching cautiously an album that draws its influences from Syria, Cuba, Egypt, India, and Colombia, as well as its own country – much like a restaurant that offers every cuisine on the planet: choose one and do it well, you’d argue. But the album is fantastic: so full of life, so catchy and so accessible. The simple riff on Beau Dimanche is irresistible, as is the rhythm of the vocals on Senegal Fast Food. They’ve just released a new one, and teamed up with Damon Albarn on opening track, Sabali. Whether it can pip the first album is an ambitious goal, but so far the reception has been good.