Blessings Nqo - Mbube And Gospel From Southern Africa

Published Sunday 14th June 2009
Blessings Nqo - Mbube And Gospel From Southern Africa
Blessings Nqo - Mbube And Gospel From Southern Africa

STYLE: World
RATING 8 8 8 8 8 8 8 8
OUR PRODUCT CODE: 77593-15223

Reviewed by Ian Thomson

Here is an impressive album from the Zimbabwean Blessings' Nqo. In 'Mbube And Gospel' he has produced music unique enough to push boundaries without in any way negating his cultural heritage. The traditional isicathamiya (popularised by Ladysmith Black Mambazo) style is evident here, both in arrangements of traditional songs like "Amadolo" and in Blessings' own "Sabela". "Lumlhaba" is Blessings' latest excursion into the territory of African jazz, reminiscent of Malawi's Wambali Mkandawire. The vocals and vocal play of "Isingunqugunqu" are truly delightful, with sufficient peculiarity to set off the soothing repetitions that we expect from gospel music. There is as yet no evidence of Austrian music making a significant impact on this Graz city resident's music, but the instrumental accompaniment of "Isililo Sentandane" might have been taken straight from a mid-West country album, complete with slide guitar and doleful harmonica riffs. In the end, though, it is the choral heritage of Zimbabwe and South Africa that drive this album along. Although Blessings' voice sounds vulnerable at points, it is never without direction, and the backing vocals, notably those of Ramadu and Vusa Mkhaya, wield a power of emotion that define this as Blessings Nqo's most important album to date.

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