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While the market for African music is heavy with new forms of Afro-pop, synth-driven reggae, and piles of high-energy soukous, there is a movement afoot for music in the more restrained end of the spectrum. Acoustic Africa takes a stab at compiling some of the newer sounds of this movement, à la MTV Unplugged. There are a few names on the album with massive recognition value: Angélique Kidjo presents a song to be released on a future album of her own, Habib Koité has his old hit “Baro,” and Djelimady Tounkara (from the Super Rail Band, among others) contributes a recent piece for the guitar. Moving away from West Africa, South Africa’s old master Vusi Mahlasela contributes a nice work for the guitar as well. Aside from these better-known artists, though, the real joy of this album comes from the unheard of, or at least less heard of. Senegal’s Diogal has a gentle touch on the guitar, as does Madagascar’s Rajery on the valiha (with a mangled hand and a technical style similar to Django Reinhardt’s old playing technique). While Lokua Kanza has had a bit of fame outside of the Congo, Faya Tess is somewhat less known outside of Africa — on this album they combine for an uncharacteristically (for her, at least) somber piece. Laye Sow’s gentle approach to protest music and a pair of works from the Cape Verdean repertoire fill out a relatively diverse set quite well. While North and East Africa, and indeed most of the central and southern portions, are underrepresented, the album covers the acoustic movement well, and touches upon the acoustic tips of more electronically based styles as well.
– Adam Greenberg, Allmusic
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View credits, reviews, tracks and shop for the 2006 CD release of "Putumayo Presents: Acoustic Africa" on Discogs.
Best of Acoustic Africa By Putumayo World Music. An enchanting selection from Putumayo collections past and present featuring relaxing songs by some of Africa's best singer-songwriters.
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