Mouneïssa

Although this is Malian singer Rokia TraorÉ's first album, it's being issued in the U.S.

Although this is Malian singer Rokia Traoré's first album, it's being issued in the U.S. following her second album, last year's Wanita (Billboard, Music to My Ears, July 15, 2000). As a collection, Mouneïssa is distinguished by the simple beauty achieved through the interplay of traditional Malian instruments like the n'goni, balafon, and djembe. The songs are quite lyrical in their composition, and what Western influence there is resides in Traoré's ultra-melodic singing style. On this set, she sings of family (the elegant, gentle title track) and the ever-present shadow of death ("Dianguina"). On "Se," she sings, "We aren't much of anything/Death ultimately carries us off." Traoré sings from a very calm center, and this quality gives her music its spellbinding vibe.—PVV