Sunday, January 14, 2007

Of abundance

Baaba Maal

Miyaabele - Baaba Maal

I can cobble together songs sung in French, but most Afrobeat music offers me the luxury of listening and not understanding a word. Comprehension is overrated. I'd just as soon invent my own meaning, even if I risk cross-cultural accidents. "Miyaabele" from Senegalese popstar Baaba Maal is as gentle as a love song, but so deep and plush and abundant -- harp scales drape acoustic rhythm guitars, a backing chorus swells with successive lines, the balafon flutters insistently -- that it seems a song about abundance, but a wider-ranging abundance. About an entire village, maybe even a whole city, that has enough and just a little more. When I read Allmusic's entry, I find that "Miyaabele" is in fact a plea for African unity. Which means I'm not far off -- unity of one-from-many being the most elusive, fragile and profound kind of abundance.

From Missing You (Amazon, eMusic, iTunes). Baaba Maal's Web site.

Also: Gnomonsong Records (the label recently founded by Devendra Banhart and Andy Cabic) has a shivery sad, lost-sounding, stunning new song from the forthcoming Papercuts album called "John Brown." Download it and mark your calendar for February 5. Going on this and a couple other songs I've heard from the album, I think it's going to be very, very good.

Big Rock Candy Mountain is soliciting suggestions for the greatest drinking songs of all time. Pull up a barstool and spill it.


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