Faya is the enthralling album borne from a meeting of two distinctly different yet equally imaginative musicians, a pair of artists despite a language barrier who found a creative and organic understanding. Their inspired collaboration has brought forth a release which captivates and lights up the air, quite simply a vibrant and refreshing breath to uplift any heart.
Joe Driscoll first met Sekou Kouyate in the port city of Marseilles, the two men pairing up to collaborate at the French festival ‘Nuit Metis’ (Nights of Mixed Race) and though neither spoke the other’s language, the hurdle was easily overwhelmed through their music. New Yorker Driscoll has already drawn great acclaim for his stylish blending of rap, folk, and blues into unique results, whilst Guinea artist Kouyate, a member of the world renowned band Ba Cissoko, has been declared the ‘Jimi Hendrix of kora’ in France for his mesmeric skill of the West Africa 21-string bridge-harp. After just a week of jamming together, a bond, musically and personally, developed which led to the creation of Faya, a collection of songs which unites warm winds of afrobeat, hip-hop, folk, reggae and more into an invigorating and energising delight.
Released through Localization Records, the album immediately has a hold through Tanama and its quickly engaging rhythms and sizzling guitar teases. The track then emerges as a fluid almost improv like piece of adventure with Driscoll leaving steamy guitar spicery across the skies of the track whilst Kouyate provides warm caresses with his instinctive enterprise. The track is the canvas for the skills of both men to play with ease and with their openly different styles and approaches complimenting and countering each other, it is a magnetic encounter.
The following Passport lifts already satisfied emotions higher with its impacting and heated elegance. Dealing with immigration and border control issues, the song approaches its theme head on whilst offering a summer stroll of sounds which put you in the holiday mood. It is a clever placing of contrasts which like the music just envelopes and thrills the ear. The vocals are the same, both men offering unique vocals for a delicious combination and utilising French and English like duelling yet firmly aligned companions.
As the album progresses the sensational treats and pleasures continue; the title track with its blues seeping breath is a majestic fusion of expansive styles and stirring textures, the best track on the album, whilst Lady is a sultry jazz funk lined party with a swagger as irresistible as the kora and expressive vocals. Both are wholly contagious and alone make the album an essential investigation for anyone with adventure in their musical hearts.
The album is glorious from start to finish with songs like the poverty and inequality dealing Ghetto Many, the gently stomping Wonamati, and the closing Zion, with its reggae coaxing and energising passion, just some of the other impressive and imaginative wonder.
Faya is an exceptional album, fuses multiple genres and styles as if they were meant to be together. Harmonies, melodies, and invention fuel a release which leaves one basking in a sunset of pleasure by its end. One can only hope the album is just the first of many to come from the sparking union of Joe Driscoll & Sekou Kouyate.
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