Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Awa Poulo

  • Poulo Warali [Awesome Tapes From Africa, 2017] B+

Consumer Guide Reviews:

Poulo Warali [Awesome Tapes From Africa, 2017]
From rural southwestern Mali, Poulo is a Peulh a/k/a Fulani, a mere 20 or 25 million of whom are dispersed across an arid yet mostly sub-Saharan third of the continent. Peulhs have their own culture, which neighboring peoples feel in sharper detail than I can. So for me Poulo's eight songs in 35 minutes captivate as West African with a twist, softening those circular grooves with singing more dulcet than, say, genteel Rokia Traoré's, never mind alarm-bell Noura Mint Seymali's. Although the grooves ride the Peulh variant of the strummed and plucked ngoni lute, they come into their own when a one-stringed violin the Peulhs call a soku echoes the vocal line. The press release indicates that Poulo's lyrics praise traders, blacksmiths, a marabout, and of course her patrons. But what tourists like us grok is the endearing, hypnotic fact of the praise itself. B+