The Heads Up Africa series has featured such artists as Hugh Masekela, Miriam Makeba, and Ladysmith Black Mambazo, there's nothing not to like about this music emerging from Southern Africa. This hit parade continues with Zimbabwean guitarist/vocalist Oliver Mtukudzi's Nhava. The album ("carrying bag in Shona) is a collection of advice, encouragement, and wisdom for travelers on a journey of life as they make their way through an often perilous world.
"Every song on the album has something to teach about life, something to remind you and encourage you about what is important in life, Mtukudzi says.
The album balances African rhythms with accessible melodiesthe songs are easily sung, if you know the wordsas the songs address social issues that are relevant throughout the world. The opening track, "Ninipa, is a call to humility. "Pindirai is a call to protect the environment. Throughout, the music is beautiful. The melodies are relaxing and, for the most part, joyous. Little attention is given to instrumental solos, as they are not necessary, save for a few moments like the electric guitar lead on "Pindirai.
The voice is the primary instrument, and Mtukudzi is the primary voice. And while instrumental solos are mostly absent, there is a strong sense of group. In the few non-vocal passages, percussion, keyboards, drums, guitar, and bass gel as a unit.
Nhava is Mtukudzi's debut on Heads Up, but his career has spanned more than 45 recordings. This latest effort continues his practice of including messages of social responsibility. "All of these ideals are universal, he says. "They are the same for every human being, regardless of their culture or their environment.
It's that sense of universal conscience that comes through on each of the twelve tracks of Nhava. Add to that a strong supporting cast of musicians and charming vocals, and this is a delightful album that can be appreciated by music lovers from all cultures.
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