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Amadou Et Mariam: Sou Ni Tile

The backstory, combined with the compelling sound, adds up to a thrilling package with Amadou Et Mariam’s album Sou Ni Tile (Tinder42857312; 70:48). The married, musical couple met in an Institute for Young Blind People in Mali, and it could be said that they’re color-blind, to style and language. On their debut for an American label, recorded in France, the pair manage to combine fundamental elements from Mali, with touches from the Middle East (via Syrian players), and things French and American, mixing languages, musical and otherwise.

Mariam Doumbia has a searing, yet sweet voice, while Amadou Bagayoko, who has played with the Mali icon Salif Keita, sings boldly and plays with a rustic expressiveness that brings to mind the gutsy guitaring from the American south, in a way similar to Ali Farka Toure’s Afro-Blues playing. The sheer jubilant intensity of a tune like “Dogon,” or the steamy elaboration on the two-chord vamp of “Baara,” peppered with funky Fender Rhodes comping by Matu, is worth the price of admission.

Originally Published