Mamani Keita is one of the great voices of Mali, a singer who knows how to bind her audience to her, all the better to seduce and then electrify them. She is also supremely charismatic, with a generous spirit that embraces the world and its music. All of which makes her an independent and socially engaged artist. In Kanou, meaning to love in her native Bambara, Keita s blazing vocals intertwine perfectly with the arabesques woven by the n goni of virtuoso Moriba Koïta and the guitars of Djeli Moussa Kouyaté, a figurehead for the Bamako Rail Band during their glory years. Unlike her previous releases - which include the acclaimed Electro Bamako with Marc Minelli, and two albums with Nicolas Repac on the No Format label, Yelema and Gagner L'Argent Francais - Kanou is a resolute back-to-roots statement, overflowing with a benevolent strength, this collection of searingly passionate songs is her first solo album, marking a decisive turning point in her career.
A former backing singer with Salif Keita, Mamani Keita is best known for her 2001 recording debut Electro Bamako, which found her accomplished Malinke roots-based song craft comfortably couched in the jazz, reggae and electronic settings of her producer, Marc Minelli. Kanou largely leaves behind the occasional rock guitar dynamics of her subsequent two albums with Nicolas Repac in favour of sparser, more rootsy arrangements by Marc-Antoine Moreau. The veteran Rail Band guitarist Djeli Moussa Kouyaté provides hypnotic guitar work, punctuated by spicy interjections from ngoni luminary Moriba Koita. Mamani's warm, silky voice is best showcased on the memorable title-track, while the frisky and infectious 'Dounia' confirms her status as a writer of rootsy, dance floor-friendly pop. Mali is already blessed with a surfeit of fine female artists and Mamani Keita is sure to get the share of the limelight she deserves if she keeps making records as good as Kanou. - A Top of the World selection in Songlines magazine. --Songlines