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Reviews

Music round-up: September 2011

George Luke

The last time I did the round-up, I predicted that whoever won X Factor would be No 1 that Christmas. Of course, I'd reckoned without Rage Against the Machine. You'd think that I'd have learned my lesson - but here I am with another rash prediction about a telly talent show contestant: Kyan Kuatois is going to be huge. The soulful young singer-songwriter (and semi-finalist on Sky 1's Must be the Music) has just released his debut album, Conversations. Tinie Tempah has said of Kyan, 'I can hear God in your voice.' He's not the only one.
 
Burlap to Cashmere have re-formed and released an eponymously titled album, their first new recording in 12 years. It's good to have them back - and great to see that they haven't lost their knack for crafting passionate, down-to-earth lyrics, or their love for Afro-Cuban and Gypsy rhythms.
A handful of festival appearances and high-profile support slots have helped make the Malian singer-songwriter Fatoumata Diawara the hottest new thing in world music circles. She's a vocal powerhouse with a great personality to boot - and Fatou, her debut album, showcases her beautifully.  
 
Given his background, it's hardly surprising that Bobby Bovell's debut album, The Emergent Eclektic, has a strong reggae feel to it. Bobby, a pastor of a church in Denmark, is the son of the legendary British reggae producer Dennis Bovell (of Matumbi and the eponymously named Dub Band fame). But as the album's title suggests, there are other influences at play here too. Imagine Lenny Kravitz in gospel mode, with lots of big, dubby basslines.
 
Welcome to the Madhouse is a delightful mess of an album (and a musical purist's nightmare) that brings together several of Kenya's most popular rappers and some of Germany's finest electronica artists, under the collaborative name BLNRB (an amalgam of Berlin and Nairobi). Well worth checking out, if cross-cultural hip-hop fusion's your thing.
 
If you've been to a jazz gig in London in the last few years, the chances are you've seen Heidi Vogel in action. Aside from her regular gig fronting the Cinematic Orchestra, the former Cirque du Soleil vocalist has sung backing vocals for just about everyone. She takes centre stage with Lágrimas de um Pássaro (Tears of a Bird) - a collection of stunning interpretations of some classic Brazilian bossas and sambas.

George Luke