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Angelique Kidjo's records have brought her plenty of acclaim, but they've tended to be very mixed -- some tracks exceptional, others remarkably ordinary. Black Ivory Soul, her exploration of the connection between her native Benin and the Bahian region in the north east of Brazil, might just be her most consistent and satisfying effort to date. She's toned down the R&B influence that peppered 1998's Oremi -- indeed, only the title cut is R&B, and that has a sweet Brazilian inflection -- and focuses instead on the job at hand. Working with talents like Carlinhos Brown and Vinicius Cantaria has obviously helped; "Tumba," for example, fairly crackles with crisp axé rhythms that drive the song along, while"Ominira" and "Afrika" makes the distance between the two continents seem very small indeed. Kidjo gets rootsier here than she has in a long time, as on her version of Gilberto Gil's "Refavela," which offers an unvarnished look -- lyrically and musically -- at the ghetto, or the more introspective "Okanbale," where the rippling kora lines falling like water through the song. Kidjo uses her trademark lush harmonies throughout the album, and she's in great voice, even content to play second fiddle to Dave Matthews on "Iwoya," where the status of the guest star (and the English language vocal) seem like a calculated move to push one of the disc's weakest tracks straight to AAA airplay. But, happily, that's the exception, not the rule; on the whole this record's heart is in art, not commerce, even tossing in a spare, loving cover of Serge Gainsbourg's "Ces Petits Riens" to close things out, although it's quite out of place on the record. This time around, Kidjo seems to have followed her muse, not the money, and the results are, virtually, everything she's always promised to do, but never quite achieved before.
Performance CreditsAngélique Kidjo Primary Artist,Vocals,Background Vocals
Bernie Worrell Organ,fender rhodes
Karl Berger Conductor
Dave Matthews Vocals
Michel Alibo Electric Bass
Ira Coleman Acoustic Bass
Aiyb Dieng African Percussion
Brenda White-King Background Vocals
Curtis King Background Vocals
Romero Lubambo Guitar (Nylon String)
Abdou M'Boup African Percussion
Cindy Mizelle Background Vocals
Joao (Tombo) Mota Electric Guitar
Vinicius Cantuaria Acoustic Guitar
Dominic Kanza Electric Guitar
Cheik Mbaye African Percussion
Mamadou Diabate Kora
Dennis Collins Background Vocals
Julieanne Klopotic Violin
Technical CreditsKarl Berger String Arrangements
Bill Laswell Producer,Mixing Translation
Dave Darlington Engineer
Clark Germain Engineer
Jean Hébrail Arranger,Engineer
Angélique Kidjo Arranger
Robert Musso Engineer
Cyrille Taillandier Engineer
Gary Montalvo Art Direction
Black Ivory Soul based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
Here comes another masterpiece by this versatile Beninnoise. C'est formidable Angelique!! Tasteful artwork at its very best!!! I immediately fell in love with the pulsating rhythm of ''Tumba'' and couldn't resist listening to this particular track over and over again. Had a nostalgic effect on me. I loved ''Iwoya'' equaly well. Harmonious blend of voices ( Angelique & Dave). Keep it up queen!!!
Mesmerizing, luminous, joyful and aching...it is evident how much Angelique Kidjo loves life, and she expresses it ebulliently with her marvelous voice. Every track is a gem, from "Iwoya", her lively and life-affirming duet with Dave Matthews, to the lovely and poignant "C'est Petit Riens". I became an immediate fan only three tracks into my first listen, and I am dumbfounded that Ms. Kidjo is not better known in the U.S. Listeners of all music genres will find something special here, as influences from jazz to blues to pop are evident.