How we rate: our writers tend to review music they like within their preferred genres.
Sidiki Conde's music is as compelling as his life story. Born in Guinea West Africa, at the age of 14, he lost the use of his legs as the result of polio. Yet in spite of obstacles (physical, cultural, and others) he was not deterred from becoming an electrifying musician, dancer, and founder of Message de Espoir (The Message of Hope), an orchestra of artists with disabilities he recruited from city streets. This self-titled release is a testament to the musician's resilience, persistence, and uplifting presence.
The recording intrinsically carries the voice of Conde's experiences and his homeland, performed by a group of exquisite musicians who emphatically answer the call of dance and song. Pulsating drums of the doun doun and djembe, resonating strings of the guitar and kora, melodies of the flute and balafon and other instruments, together creating an atmosphere of celebration.
If the recording's music is the heartbeat, then the songs (lyrics sung in Guinean and translated to English in the liners) are its life-blood. "N'na" dedicated to Conde's mother who took care of him when he first became disabled, "Dalina," a traditional song to remind people to never forget their homeland, or "Ibrahimi Conde," a warm dedication to Conde's son (1994-2002) sung in Arabic and Malinke languages.
Stand out selections include "Damayele" and "Aboubacar Sidiki" where the player's instruments hypnotically intertwine with the call/response of the singers, or "Kourri"'s serenity with its easy guitar lines, threading Conde's heartfelt singing. This is music with global appeal, similar to the popular sounds of sister West African, Angelique Kidjo. There's much to enjoy here; a release that embodies Conde's spiritone that is alive, dancing and singing.