For here or Togo? Both.
By Mark Jenkins
Friday, August 24, 2012
On Elikeh's "Between 2 Worlds," Togo-bred singer-guitarist Serge "Massama" Dogo continues to address issues that bedevil his former home. As the title of the D.C. octet's third album suggests, however, Dogo has become somewhat Americanized in the 12 years he has lived here. More of the D.C. octet's lyrics are in English, and certain such tracks, such as "No Vision," use simpler cadences than the intricate West African polyrhythms of songs such as "Olesafrica.”
The album features two guest stars, whose contributions show the band’s range. Malian guitar hero Vieux Farka Toure, son of the great Ali Farka Toure, plays on “Alonye.” Dogo wrote the tune, which is jaunty and ebullient in the African mode, but Toure’s blues-rock guitar solos are far from traditional.
Guitarist John Kadlecik, of Grateful Dead heirs Furthur, sings and plays on “Nye’N Mind Na Wo,” a track he composed with Dogo. It shows the jazzy side of Afropop yet includes the rippling sound of a kora, the harp-like West African instrument.
Dogo exhorts people to live more fully in such earnest tunes as “Know Who You Are” and “Fly to the Sky.” But listeners are more likely to follow when Elikeh performs numbers such as “Let Them Talk,” whose swinging horns, chattering cross-rhythms and lively call-and-response chorus are altogether infectious.