It had been since 2010's 'Jamm' that we'd heard anything from the Senegalese bard Cheikh Lô. 'Balbalou' ("talking" in Wolof) is the first album for which Lô no longer collaborated with World Circuit's Nick Gold, but Swedish producer Andreas Unge fills his shoes with gusto. On 'Balbalou' above all rather subdued mbalax rhythms (opener 'Bamba', 'Doyal Naniou', 'Lutax'...) supplemented with Latin American ('Baissons Les Armes') and Congolese influences ('Suzanah'). To give things a bit of extra flavor Cheikh Lô also invited a number of guests on 'Balbalou': together with accordionist Fixi, Flavia Coelho adds some Brazilian flair to 'Degg Gui', French-Lebanese trumpet player Ibrahim Maalouf gave title track 'Balbalou' a jazzy touch and for 'Doyal Naniou', a song in which he condemns the numerous coups on the African continent, Lô invited Malian diva Oumou Sangare. One our African recommendations for 2015!