Album Review: BAI KAMARA JR & THE VOODOO SNIFFERS – Salone

BAI KAMARA JR & THE VOODOO SNIFFERS – Salone

Moosicus/M.I.G. Music [Release date 24.01.20]

It is said that an artist brings their own experiences to any work that they create and if that’s the case Bai Kamara’s biography would suggest a varied and interesting album. Son of the former Sierra Leonean ambassador in Brussels, Kamara grew up in the United Kingdom and his latest album with newly formed band, The Voodoo Sniffers, finds him exploring his African identity through music. ‘Salone’ (which means Sierra Leone in the Krio language) kicks off with a John Lee Hooker-style blues; ‘Can’t Wait Here Too Long’ finds a man impatient to move on “at this crossroads in my life”, and this begins a theme across the whole record of questioning and powerlessness to the forces around him.

One such force is the titular ‘Lady Boss’, a humorous story song where Kamara recounts his daily routine under the thumb of a domineering woman. Propelled by acoustic guitar and rhythmic percussion, the number has tongue placed firmly in cheek as Kamara ad-libs at the songs close; “She’s into the Me-Too movement and me too”. ‘Black Widow Spider’ sounds like it was recorded in a vast, echoing space as Bai Kamara delivers a Mannish Boy-esque vocal but surprisingly a touch of flamenco style accompaniment is thrown in. Such offbeat choices typify this album; presenting as a blues throwback record, there are curveball choices peppered throughout like the surprisingly ominous chords and slightly out of sync vocal stacking deployed on ‘Riverboat Blues’.

The album’s best moments are where twenty first century domesticity get the blues treatment to hilarious effect, like ‘Morning School Run Blues’, where Kamara laments; “No time for my coffee, we late again, we’ll be caught up in the morning traffic”. ‘Salone’s’ great strength is how it draws on blues history but doesn’t feel beholden to any particular approach or homage; it’s a strong collection of songs with subtle yet excellently judged arrangements and production. ***

Review by Phillip Beamon


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