Published Feb 12, 2019If Un Autre Blanc does, in fact, represent legendary Malian singer-songwriter Salif Keita's final record, he will be going out on the proverbial high note. At almost 70 years of age, the Afro-pop singer-songwriter — known as the "Golden Voice of Africa" — has stated that this 14th studio album, will indeed be his last.
The album title — "Another White" in English — refers to his industry struggles at the beginning of his long career due to his albinism. It's a stigma that he has both embraced, challenged and overcome, and his musical approach that incorporates elements of jazz, funk and electronic sounds have been influential for a new generation of African artists.
Case in point: the electronic vibes of "Were Were" leverage both traditional and modern sounds to solid effect; Angélique Kidjo lends a hand with the vibrant "Itarafo"; the Alpha Blondy collaboration "Mansa Fo La" takes its time with reggae riddems; and the legendary Ladysmith Black Mambazo sets a smooth traditional pace and energy with notes of Auto-tune on "Gnamale."
At times, Un Autre Blanc feels like it's trying to do too much within its ten tracks, with its mix of genre, guest spots and instrumentation (including ngoni, kora, keys, brass and guitar). But then a smooth, thoughtful, commercial pop-minded track like "Tonton" shows that Keita has still got it. Un Autre Blanc leaves everything out there and sees him go out on top. (Naive)