Razor & Tie
This live album is your Angelique Kidjo Greatest Hits CD; even though it’s not really a career summary. What it is though is a killer live set from a strong vocalist with a kick-ass backing ensemble. It’s Afrobeat-as-Afropop, a fluid sound that rolls through elements of funk and soul and jazz to offer catchy, upbeat, happy, lively versions of a string of great covers – and some of Kidjo’s best originals.
Though Bob Marley’s Redemption Song is overplayed – and the biggest mistake people make is being so sure that Bob’s words can stand in for their own thoughts; they can attach themselves to its motives simply by singing it – Kidjo finds a way into the song, a new way. Her band finds a groove. It’s unlikely, at first. And then it finds propulsion, it moves, it wins.
The same is true of Gimme Shelter with Kidjo’s Sing The Truth co-star Dianne Reeves (and what a singer she is!) guesting.
Speaking of guests, this album is a showcase for some stunning star-turns. Reeves returns for Monfe Ran E and gives a huge gospel sound to it. And Branford Marsalis absolutely kills on the version of Curtis Mayfield’s Move On Up.
Until Spirit Rising Kidjo was a singer I admired without feeling any great need to get wrapped up in; I never felt any connection to her albums. I respected her talent – but left it there.
But this album is great. It’s exciting, lively, sharp. And you can tell the artists involved all really care – they want to entertain, to preach, to pour their heart and soul into their singing and instruments. They want to educate and inspire. And they want to make sure everyone’s having a good time. You can hear that they are. And it’s infectious.