From the seductive outset of Maryam Mursal’s fine debut album The Journey (RealWorld 2370; 53:04), our sense of geo-stylistic identity is pleasantly confused. A warble-funky rhythm guitar part with a distinct New Orleans character kicks off the infectious tune “Lei Lei,” accented with syncopated punches before we land in a steaming groove second line lope with African rhythmic webbing and Arabic colors. When the soulful Somalian enters with her musky, bold voice, the magnetic allure is complete. The album continues with the delicate blend of African, Arabic and Western influences, all constructed around Mursal’s songs and delivery thereof. Here is a case, in a world music context, where crossover and production aren’t dirty words at all.
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